Wednesday 19 June 2019

Couple claim they were not properly told about results showing aborted baby had been healthy

The National Maternity Hospital at Holles Street
The National Maternity Hospital at Holles Street
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

The distressed couple at the centre of the tragic abortion case say the result of a second test, showing the baby they terminated was healthy, was not communicated properly to them when they were asked to a meeting with doctors about the findings.

It is alleged that it was only after they left the early April consultation at the National Maternity Hospital in Holles Street, where the testing and termination were carried out, that the shocking discovery became clear. The results were contained in an envelope they were given.

The full extent of the result became clear after a genetics specialist explained the upsetting finding to them after they had sought his expertise privately.

A consultant in Holles Street wrote to the couple last month admitting problems in the manner in which the second test result was delivered to them.

The distraught couple had been told in black and white terms there was no hope for their unborn baby in March.

This followed the results of the first test involving chorionic villus sampling (CVS) showing their baby had trisomy 18, known as Edward's syndrome.

The abortion was carried out by the hospital based on the information from the first test. But the more detailed lab investigation, which was returned after the termination, later revealed the baby was clear of abnormalities.

The manner in which the results of a second test, showing the unborn baby did not have the fatal foetal abnormality, was communicated is expected to be part of an external investigation which is to be held into the case.

Asked for a response to the claims yesterday, a spokesman for the National Maternity Hospital declined to comment.

An external review overseen by specialists from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in the UK is to get under way to examine the circumstances of the case.

The couple's solicitor, Caoimhe Haughey, said yesterday they will want to not only have an input into the terms of reference, but will also insist on having a say on who will sit on the inquiry.

She said some documents relating to the abortion were only furnished by the hospital on Friday, although the couple had sought all their medical records in April.

They received most of the records on May 10 but it was only on Friday, following another request, that the consent form to the termination was released.

The hospital also released the termination notification to the Health Minister, which is required under law.

"I will be examining the authenticity of both documents," said Ms Haughey.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that there are no national guidelines for doctors on antenatal ultrasound or prenatal screening or diagnosis.

This case is likely to lead to these guidelines. Hospitals have access to international guidelines although it appears practices vary between different units.

Obstetricians and gynaecologists were issued with some guidelines earlier this year on the care and treatment of pregnant women under the new abortion law which came into effect in January.

These include women whose unborn baby has a suspected or diagnosed fatal foetal abnormality.

However, the guidelines are general and do not go into specifics about testing and what level of accuracy is needed before diagnosis and termination.

Irish Independent

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