Monday 19 February 2018

New report details three previously unknown baby deaths at Portlaoise Hospital

Midland Regional Hospital, Portlaoise
Midland Regional Hospital, Portlaoise
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Three previously unknown baby deaths involving the alleged failure to properly monitor the foetal heartbeat during their mothers' labour are revealed in a new report on Portlaoise Hospital today.

The HSE Clinical Compaints Review, which looked at a range of patient complaints about patient care, covering several decades, recommends the HSE apologise to fourteen families.

The new report follows the revelations two years ago that five babies died at the hospital over a number of years due to suffering lack of oxygen.

The revelations led to a flood of complaints from other families. Today's review, published by the HSE, looks at some of the the cases and issues they raised.

It found that there were three other baby deaths at the hospital from the 1980s to the 1990s.

In these three cases grossly abnormal CTG readings, monitoring the baby's heart rate during labour, were noted.

A further clinical review of CTG readings in 90 cases however between 1980s and 2014 could find no evidence of a trend in failing to respond as being a contributory factor in the baby deaths.

The review was chaired by retired Holles St obstetrician Dr Peter Boylan, who is chairman of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

Patient Focus, the support group, welcomed the publication of this report saying it was hoped it would provide some comfort to the families involved.

"During this protracted process we believe some families have, at times, been pushed beyond endurance," a spokesperson said.                           

"Patient Focus is concerned that the HSE has been unable to conduct a timely review that met the needs of patients and families. The process was ad hoc. There was much chopping and changing evident in method and overall approach.

"As a result it was very difficult for families to feel a sense of inclusion and confidence that their concerns mattered. The process stumbled along until eventually a productive approach was adopted. It should not have happened in this way.

"Patient Focus is of the view that women and families should have been offered access to a written medical review of their case. This was suggested over and over again but did not happen.

"The HSE cannot continue to reinvent the wheel when major incident reviews are needed.

"There is no doubt that the strenuous efforts by families to bring the unnecessary deaths of infants to public attention has paid off. They have been vindicated by numerous reports and serious change is underway in how the service is now provided.

"We have been assured that the recommendations of this review are in the process of implementation. We hope this is true and expect that any recommendations following a hospital review is shared nationally," they added.

The report also looked at complaints about other hospitals including the Rotunda and the Coombe.

Common themes in Portlaoise included CTG monitoring emerging as a serious issue in three baby deaths and also in the case of another baby who was delivered.

Patients highlighted a lack of communication in their care, particularly after the death of their baby.

They frequently felt they were not treated with respect.

They had difficulty accessing their health records.

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