Sunday 15 September 2019

'The apology won't bring my baby home' - Newborn baby died as a result of 'medical misadventure'

A medical misadventure verdict has been returned at the inquest of a baby boy

Sandra Cullivan with a photo of her son Stevie. Photo: Tony Gavin
Sandra Cullivan with a photo of her son Stevie. Photo: Tony Gavin

Louise Roseingrave

A medical misadventure verdict has been returned at the inquest of a baby boy who suffered a lack of oxygen to the brain shortly before birth.

Baby’s Stevie Cullivan’s mother Sandra, who lost her husband Stephen to a heart attack five months into the pregnancy, said she felt the verdict delivered justice for her son.

“Today I felt we got justice. We got answers. We fought long and hard, it’s two years and seven months since Stevie died. I just feel it’s too long for any parent to wait to get justice for their baby. And it will never bring Stevie back,” Ms Cullivan said.

She said she felt let down by the hospital, which issued an apology at the closing of the three-day inquest into her baby son’s death.

Stevie Cullivan
Stevie Cullivan

“The apology is fine. It's never going to bring my baby home. I think they should look after people from the beginning to the end. I knew when we were transferred out of Mullingar Hospital that I wasn’t looked after in that hospital and I felt let down,” she said.

Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane issued a number of recommendations alongside her verdict including ending the practice of placing induced patients in the post-natal ward before delivery. Ms Cullivan had been given a private room on the post-natal ward due to her sensitive circumstances.

However, she was left alone for 90 minutes before staff returned to find her in advanced labour. The coroner called for clear assignment of duties in relation to midwifery staff after the inquest heard conflicting evidence over which midwife was responsible for Ms Cullivan.

The coroner noted that the hospital’s policy in relation to monitoring patients following the administration of the pain medication pethidine had been updated. The court was told that the protocol is being formally signed at Midlands Regional Hospital this week but has been in place since baby Stevie’s death.

Ms Cullivan had asked for pain relief and was examined but was deemed not to be in labour by a midwife at 10pm on April 28 2015, two hours before the birth. She spent 90 minutes alone in a private room in the hospital, a crucial period during which there was no CTG monitoring of the foetal heart rate.

The baby was born gravely ill at 11.59pm. He was transferred to the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin where withdrawal of care was recommended. Staff continued to care for Stevie to allow for his mother to spend some time with him. The baby was baptised and died at 1.40am on April 30.

The cause of death was severe hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy as a result of an acute hypoxic ischemic event on a background of foetal vascular malperfusion. The baby suffered some lack of oxygen or stress before delivery, Pathologist Dr Emma Doyle said, but she could not give the exact time this occurred.

Speaking after the inquest, Ms Cullivan thanked her legal team from Callan Tansey Solicitors and the support group Patient Focus.

“We need time and space to reflect on today’s verdict,” she said.

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