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Friday 14 December 2018

'Mark should be playing football and starting school' - Devastated father of baby who died after birth

A visibly upset Roisin Molloy leaves the Medical Council hearing in Dublin after the verdict on the birth of her son Mark. Photo: Steve Humphreys
A visibly upset Roisin Molloy leaves the Medical Council hearing in Dublin after the verdict on the birth of her son Mark. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Catherine Devine and Eilish O'Regan

The father of a baby who died shortly after his birth has said he and his wife were "taken aback and very upset" by the verdict reached by the Medical Council yesterday.

Infant Mark Molloy died on January 24, 2012 at the Midland Regional Hospital in Portlaoise after his mother Roisin was given the drug syntocinon to speed up labour, adding to his foetal distress.

Baby Mark Molloy. Picture: RTE Investigates
Baby Mark Molloy. Picture: RTE Investigates

Yesterday, a doctor in obstetrics and gynaecology, who was involved in the baby's care, was found guilty on two counts of professional misconduct but cleared on five others at a Medical Council hearing. The decision on whether to impose a sanction on the doctor, who cannot be named, will be taken at a full meeting of the council in May.

Baby Mark's father - Mark Molloy - said the council appeared to base its verdict on the inaction of others around the doctor on the his son died, and it was like "mistaken majority syndrome rules".

Speaking today on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, he said there "had to be accountability at management level".

"We were taken aback and we were very upset by the verdict yesterday," he told Morning Ireland.

He also said that the inquiry came down to the interpretation the cardiotocograph (CTG), which monitors the baby's and mother's heart-rate.

"The HSE completed their own risk assessment into CTG use last week and basically concluded that there is nothing to see here and that everything was above board. The interpretation is subjective ... It raises serious causes for concern."

The distraught father said that a lot of information came out during the inquiry that was "conflicting" to what the family heard previously from HSE reports.

"Everything seemed to be conflicting with each other and it gave us no closure. It left us with more questions really."

He added that his newborn son would now be six-years'-old and should be playing football with the local team.

"You think of him so often. The local team are training under 6's and under 8's and he should be down there. Last September, the first day of school was very upsetting for us seeing all the boys and girls going in that would have been his classmates.

"We're reminded of him every day. We look back at pictures of our own boys when they were five and six and all the memories we have with them. All those opportunities are gone for Mark and he will never experience those things.

"It's extremely upsetting."

At the inquiry yesterday, the doctor was found guilty of professional misconduct on two counts for retrospectively amending a note on the CTG chart relating to the case changing the word "satisfactory" to "unsatisfactory".

He had also added the word "non-reassuring".

The doctor admitted to changing the note during evidence at the 12-day inquiry.

The fitness-to-practise committee said this was a "serious falling short of the expected standards of conduct".

It also found allegations unproved that he failed to adequately review the CTG.

This was also the finding in the allegation he failed to correctly interpret it as being abnormal.

He was also cleared of allegations that he did not act in a timely manner when complications arose during Mrs Molloy's labour and inappropriately administered Syntocinon, a drug used to speed up labour.

The inquiry was told Ms Molloy was informed baby Mark was stillborn.

However, she later found he was born alive and died 22 minutes after unsuccessful attempts to resuscitate him.

The fitness-to-practise committee said the labour was "not apparently regarded as overly problematic" by other health care staff in the maternity unit at the time.

None of the senior midwives raised concerns about the prescribing of the drugs.

The committee acknowledged the terrible loss to the family due to baby Mark's death.

Mr Molly told Morning Ireland that his family had future meetings planned with Minister for Health Simon Harris to discuss the issue.

"We've met Minister Harris about this on a number of occasions and we have future meetings planned with him.

"We've always said that Mark's death is not solely down to the inactions of the people who were involved in the delivery of him on the day. There were previous reports into deaths and injuries before Mark in Portlaoise and the recommendations of those were not acted upon. This comes back to management level in Portlaoise and on a national level.

"We can not continue to issue the same recommendations and no-one is held to account on them. There has to be accountability on a management level."

Mark was one of five infants who died in similar circumstances Portlaoise between 2006 and 2013. However, the case did not come to light until 2014 and a number of inquiries have followed.

It is understood a number of fitness-to-practise inquiries involving nurses at Portlaoise took place in private at An Bord Altranais, the nursing board.

The distressed parents said yesterday they still did not have closure. The allegations relating to the CTG review and Syntocinon are now closed.

The finding ultimately comes down to the interpretation of CTGs.

The HSE told the Irish Independent an internal disciplinary process arising out of the infant deaths in Portlaoise in 2015 has still not been finalised.

This is despite a pledge by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who as minister for health said the process would be complete in three months.

A spokeswoman for the HSE said: "The HSE can confirm that the matter is currently on going in accordance with the terms of reference."

It declined to say whether anyone had been disciplined or what the outcome was.

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