A MAJOR maternity hospital is to review which medical records its doctors can access after concern that psychiatric notes were not given to all specialists.
The Master of the Rotunda hospital, Dr Sam Coulter Smith, said a review of practices relating to the exchange of reports by different specialists treating a pregnant woman is to get under way.
Dr Coulter-Smith was commenting after an inquest into the death of Anna Byrne, from Dunboyne, Co Meath, who apparently took her own life when she was 38 weeks pregnant with twins.
The inquest was told that the Rotunda kept Mrs Byrne's psychiatric notes separate to the obstetric care notes.
Her family asked that this practice, which the hospital said was done to protect her confidentiality, be changed.
Dr Coulter-Smith said: "If we think that there are lessons that can be learned, then we'll take them on board.
"If we feel that there is definitely something we can change which will be beneficial, then we will implement it immediately."
He pointed out that cases such as Mrs Byrne's were "extraordinarily rare" – about one in half a million pregnancies – and it should be reviewed carefully.
"I think it's important not to have a knee-jerk reaction to this type of situation. We have had a system in place where the mental health notes and the obstetric notes have been separate, and that has not caused a problem up to now."
He said there were no suggestions that there were any care issues involved. The patient had the care of a mental health support team and even those closest to her did not see any warning signs.
Dr Coulter added that it might not be appropriate to have details of a patient's background in their notes from a confidentiality point of view. "If we feel we can do this better we will," he said.