Deaths of two more babies to be referred for probe
A review of the medical charts of 63 babies born in maternity hospitals across the country has led to two cases being referred for more investigation to a group of obstetricians.
The initial review, which included cases where babies died or suffered complications, arose out of concerns by families who contacted a HSE and Patient Focus helpline in the wake of the Portlaoise Hospital controversy last year.
They were concerned that their babies were also the victims of an adverse incident in a maternity hospital and that they had not been told the full truth about what happened.
Dr Susan Reilly, a senior HSE manager, said these 63 cases were first reviewed by midwives from outside the hospitals where they were born. Two have now been referred on for more examination.
They will be examined by a team of obstetricians - led by former Holles Street master, Dr Peter Boylan - who were appointed to sort through the cases and look at their clinical records to see who may need a full, in-depth investigation.
Another 28 cases, which were looked at by the team of obstetricians, have also been sorted and a number of parents will receive letters telling them if further inquiry is needed in the next two weeks.
Dr Reilly, who is chief executive of the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group including Portlaoise, is now chairing the steering committee overseeing the process.
"There will be a group of 28 families who will get letters about their concerns in the next two weeks," she said.
The majority of the cases brought to the attention of the helpline are expected to be tragic deaths from birth defects or diseases which could not have been prevented. Others involved communication issues.
The hospitals where the 63 babies were born are also to do another re-check, following the review of the medical records, she added.
"If there is any possibility that any were overlooked which could have been prevented, there is still the potential that they will be sent to Dr Boylan," she added.
Five babies are known to have died in similar circumstances in Portlaoise Hospital between 2006 and 2013 when they suffered a lack of oxygen after foetal distress was not recognised or acted on during their mothers' labour.
It emerged yesterday that the HSE is facing a series of lawsuits arising out of the deaths of the babies in Portlaoise.