Tuesday 17 September 2019

National Maternity Hospital quizzed on abortion safety

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

Eilish O'Regan

The National Maternity Hospital has been asked to provide assurances on the "ongoing safety" of its abortion service.

The reassurance is being sought by the Department of Health following the case of a couple whose healthy baby was aborted after a wrong diagnosis of fatal foetal abnormality. Correspondence to the couple's solicitor from the Department of Health said it is "awaiting a further response from the hospital".

They couple are emotionally shattered after the tragedy which led to a termination of pregnancy after the results of a test showed their unborn baby had a fatal foetal abnormality. However, a later test found the baby was healthy.

But they are determined to ensure other couples are spared the devastation. Months after the trauma they feel they have been deserted by health authorities as a promised external review has been delayed in a bid to find the right UK experts to carry it out.

They reiterated their call yesterday for a full independent inquiry into the case.

The couple's solicitor, Caoimhe Haughey, also said they "questioned how the National Maternity Hospital could be allowed do its own internal lookback at previous test results to determine if there were any other cases of incorrect diagnosis of the fatal foetal abnormality, Trisomy 18, known as Edward's syndrome".

The Irish Independent revealed how the hospital was doing a 20-year look back at women who had the chorionic villus sampling (CVS) test and had a diagnosis of Trisomy 18.

The hospital said it had so far found no case of discordant results between the QFPCR element - the first test - and the full karyotype, which is a more intensive test, in relation to Trisomy 18.

However, Ms Haughey said the hospital shouldn't be allowed to investigate itself and there should be an outside audit.

The National Maternity Hospital said it needs to carry out an internal audit first. It is hopeful the UK's Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists will soon suggest experts it can approach to do an external review of the case.

Letters asking for an independent inquiry have been sent by the couple to Health Minister Simon Harris and chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan. The letter from the Department of Health said it acknowledged the couple's heartfelt commitment to serve the wider public interest and patient safety "by ensuring that learning from this event is embedded across our maternity system".

The Department of Health did not wish to comment when contacted last night.

Irish Independent

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