Maternity hospitals recorded 675 safety incidents in a month
Maternity hospitals and units across the country reported 675 incidents where a patient was harmed or a potential medical hazard occurred in a single month, new statistics reveal.
The figures also reveal there were eight major obstetric events where a mother's life was in danger due to conditions such as eclampsia over the course of last December.
The picture of activity in the nation's maternity wards has emerged in the first set of monthly statistics from all 19 units to be published.
From now all maternity hospitals and units will have to publish patient safety statements each month following a demand by the watchdog Hiqa.
The perinatal mortality rate, involving stillbirths and early newborn deaths, was highest in Cavan Hospital at 8.3 per 1,000 births.
This was followed by Portiuncula Hospital at 7.4 and Letterkenny where the rate is 6.25. Babies with birth defects are excluded.
The Caesarean section rate ranged from 21.3pc in Waterford to 40.3pc in South Tipperary Hospital where there were just 77 births.
Prof Michael Turner of the Coombe Hospital stressed the statistics at this point must be interpreted with caution because the numbers are low.
He said the publication of the data should provide welcome reassurance for women.
It will take several more months before a fuller insight emerges into the practices and patterns of care emerge in the individual units.
The hospitals must provide statistics on 17 metrics but they do not include information on maternal deaths.
Hiqa demanded the monthly statistics be published after the Portlaoise scandal.
Portlaoise had no baby deaths in December and reported 30 clinical incidents, eight of which were historical.
The Irish Independent reported how the masters of the three main Dublin maternity hospitals wrote to the HSE objecting to their inclusion in the table. They deal with more complex cases and risked media scrutiny as a result.
However, the hospitals are now part of the report. Between them they reported 311 incidents of harm or potential harm.