Saturday 10 December 2016

'Unacceptable in any circumstances' - Taoiseach on 67 'extreme incidents' at Ireland's maternity hospitals

Sarah Stack & Lise Hand

Published 12/06/2015 | 02:30

Enda Kenny
Enda Kenny

The Taoiseach has described as "unacceptable in any circumstances" the number of 'extreme incidents' which led to permanent incapacity or death at Ireland's maternity hospitals.

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It was revealed on RTE's 'Prime Time' that 67 extreme incidents were recorded last year, along with three further cases rated as 'major' which led to long-term disability.

Mr Kenny said that although he hadn't seen the programme, he understood that "some truly harrowing cases brought to light. This is unacceptable in any circumstances," he said.

"I regret that these kinds of incidents happened, but it's important that we know that they do happen and that they can be dealt with in a way that patients be central and a first priority for the health system. So, lessons to be learned and improvements to be made," he added.

The figures were released to RTE by the State Claims Agency which collects data on adverse events in acute hospitals. The agency said there were 67 events that it classed as 'extreme'.

Read more: Hiqa raised concerns over maternal bleeds at Portlaoise Hospital

Disappointed: Health Minister Leo Varadkar
Disappointed: Health Minister Leo Varadkar

One featured the case of baby Caoimhe, who died shortly after she was born at Limerick University Hospital in 2009. Her parents, John and Joan Mulcair, later got an expert report from UK-based Consultant Obstetrician Edward Shaxted who noted the baby became progressively more starved of oxygen during the last hour and a half of labour.

He concluded: "It is likely the baby would have survived had she been delivered earlier."

The HSE made an out-of-court settlement with the Mulcairs last December, RTÉ said.

Another case revealed how Claire Rushe from Edenderry, Co Offaly, was told she had miscarried her baby in 2012 but nine days later it emerged the miscarriage had been misdiagnosed. She lost the baby the following day.

Grace Vaughan, from Navan in Co Meath, also described how she became unwell when giving birth to her second child in Cavan General Hospital in March 2013.

She was in such severe pain she left the hospital in a wheelchair, but that night was rushed to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, where she was diagnosed with septicaemia. This happened just four months after the death of Savita Halappanavar in Galway University Hospital from septicaemia.

Ms Vaughan's husband Emmett, and a doctor in Drogheda, made repeated efforts to contact the hospital, but the first they heard was a phone call from a hospital representative six months later, she said.

An external review is now under way by the HSE,

Health Minister Leo Varadkar said he was always disappointed to hear about anyone having a bad experience of the health service, especially if it involves a lack of compassion.

"It's important that patients are listened to, that complaints are dealt with properly, and that reviews are conducted in a reasonable timeframe. Honesty, openness and compassion cost nothing," he added.

Irish Independent

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