Miscarriage scandal goes to very heart of humanity
DOCTORS make mistakes in diagnosis every day. Most can be rectified; some have harmful results; a few can be fatal. But one kind of misdiagnosis has a poignancy all its own. To hear from a doctor that "your baby is dead" must be unbearable for any pregnant woman.
Often, in the past, the doctor who gave them that news had got it wrong. In the last five years, in 16 Irish maternity units, there have been 18 cases of misdiagnosis in early pregnancy. A trawl back over a long period has found a further six.
Most of the babies were alive and healthy. The mistakes occurred because the doctors involved -- consultants or registrars -- could not detect a heartbeat. They were not required to seek a second opinion. But determined young women questioned the decisions and persevered with their pregnancies.