Monday 20 November 2017

Family anxiously awaits post mortem after baby's death at Cavan Hospital

A baby died during a caesarean section at Cavan Hospital
A baby died during a caesarean section at Cavan Hospital

Eilish O'Regan and Lise Hand

The death of a baby in Cavan General Hospital's maternity unit happened during a caesarean section - a tragic outcome which was described as "very uncommon" yesterday.

A post mortem is to be carried out to determine the cause of death, indicating if a fuller investigation is needed. It is unusual for a healthy baby to die during this form of delivery.

A wider inquiry into care standards at the maternity unit has been ruled out at this stage by Health Minister Leo Varadkar. Families who lost three babies at the unit, one dating back to November 2012, are still anxiously awaiting reviews to find out why they died.

One of the mothers still waiting for a report on her baby, who died in the hospital a year ago, said: "We need to know what is going on". The woman who identified herself as 'Mary' added: "Families are left devastated. Nobody can imagine the devastation."

Phelim Quinn, chief executive of the patient safety watchdog Hiqa said yesterday that it was asked by former Health Minister James Reilly to look at standards in Cavan last May. It has not visited the hospital but sought details on the three deaths.

He said they were reassured that any issues of patient safety arising out of the cases had been addressed by the hospital although individual reviews of the tragedies are not yet finalised.

One obstetrician remains on administrative leave pending the completion of an inquiry into one of the deaths. A spokeswoman for the hospital insisted it has sufficient numbers of staff at all times to deal with obstetric emergencies, despite claims by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation that shortages were delaying admissions to theatre.

The hospital's annual figures for mortality and significant illness among babies "have consistently compared very well to figures for other hospitals", she added.

On a weekly basis outcomes in the unit are audited by senior clinicians, senior nursing staff and management and any recommendations arising are implemented. Paediatrician Dr Alan Finan said: "All maternity services will have isolated adverse incidents. The recent incident where a baby died during delivery is a tragedy for the family concerned."

Irish Independent

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