Saturday 21 October 2017

Mother breaks down in tears over care of 11-month-old son at Portiuncula Hospital

Teresa Dunne says she is
Teresa Dunne says she is "grieving" for the kind of boy that her son could have been.
Teresa and Ronan Dunne with Eoghan (3)
Teresa and Ronan Dunne, parents of Eoghan Dunne who was a patient at Portiuncula Hospital, Co. Galway. Photo: RTE Prime Time
Eoghan Dunne as a baby.
Mark O'Regan

Mark O'Regan

A young woman broke down in tears as she raised major questions over the care which her 11-month-old baby received in Portiuncula Hospital in Co. Galway.

Teresa Dunne and her husband Ronan have three children – two girls and their youngest child - Eoghan (3).

In August 2012 Teresa noticed that Eoghan was displaying some symptoms where gave her cause for concern, and he was brought to Portiuncula Hospital, having got a referral from a GP.

Eoghan’s condition deteriorated – and Teresa was told he would require ventilation.

Twelve hours after arriving at the hospital he was transferred to Temple Street Children’s Hospital in Dublin.

It was decided 11 month old Eoghan had pneumonia – he developed septic shock and later suffered cardiac arrest.

He was left with major neurological damage, and spent a total of six months in hospital.

"I’m kind of grieving I think for the boy he could have been... I have friends with little boys around the same age and I can see them running around and kicking football and doing the things that I just wish Eoghan could do,” she told last night's RTE Prime Time.

Referring to Eoghan’s current condition, the mother-of-three said: ''He does have numerous difficulties, a major one being that he can’t lift up his own head, he can’t lift up his body so he wears a white lycra suit, he’s tube fed, there are issues around his swallow.

''We don’t know if he’ll ever walk, he can’t really use his legs or arms functionally. He has limited vision, he can definitely see bright lights, and he’ll focus in on a bright shining light, but he doesn’t really track or follow you.''

In February 2014, the Dunne family received by registered post a report on the care provided to Eoghan at Portiuncula Hospital.

They had been totally unaware of the existence of this report - which had been completed five months previously - and in a letter the hospital apologised for not informing the family earlier.

It identified a root cause of Eoghan’s care failings.

It said the use of an “early warning score system” which determines the severity of a patient’s condition would have “prompted earlier referral to senior clinical decision-making and review by the Paediatric Consultant on call”, meaning Eoghan “would then likely have arrived in PICU in a better condition.”

The Dunne’s say they’ve also been left devastated by recent revelations that the hospital is reviewing the treatment of seven babies born at the maternity unit last year.

On learning of the report on the care provided, she said: “Well I was just devastated and in shock, I couldn’t believe it and I couldn’t actually read the report so I asked Ronan will you read the report and just tell me what it says, I just can’t read it, I just didn’t want to go back to that day and what had happened.

''I don’t know, I just hoped that maybe it was just nature and that it had happened, and we were really unlucky, and Eoghan was unlucky, but no.''

Referring to the fact the report had been completed five months previous to the couple receiving it, Ronan said: “At that time, the media, it was, you know, wall to wall, Portlaiose Hospital, reviews being carried out without parents knowledge, and to me it was just too much of a coincidence the timing of the arrival on our doorstep of our review.

''And I asked Portiuncula directly on a couple of occasions in letters that we wrote to them, that you know, was it connected to the Prime Time report on Portlaoise Hospital - “No, no, just coincidence” - and it still just doesn’t add up to me.

''It was just mindboggling, you know, the most basic thing will be how you carry out a review of a serious incident you know, that leaves a little boy with neurological damage, and not talk to the people that were there the whole way through it with him.”

On the recent revelations that the hospital is reviewing the treatment of seven babies born at the maternity unit last year, Ronan said: “In our report they highlight an issue of , you know, lack of a timely call to a senior consultant for Eoghan, that’s being discussed.''

''I hear about early warning systems not being used, you know, that’s mentioned in our report. I mean our report says, you know, that this should be shared among all medical people to learn from, to use as an education tool but I mean, was it shared in Portiuncula?”

The couple were speaking in a special report on last night’s edition of Prime Time.

At the weekend, it was revealed that the HSE is investigating the deaths of 30 babies in Irish hospitals.

A spokesman for Portiuncula Hospital said it “cannot comment on individual cases.”

“We have had a number of media enquiries regarding individual service users who have raised concerns about issues arising at Portiuncula Hospital.

“Saolta-Portiuncula Hospital will be dealing directly with all service users who raise concerns and their issues will be dealt with appropriately in line with agreed policies,” he added.

Attempts to contact the HSE for comment were unsuccessful.

Online Editors

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News