Saturday 16 December 2017

'Hospital never told me about probe into my baby's death to avoid legal action' - 'Horrified' dad claims

Lorraine and Warren Reilly. Photo: Andrew Downes
Lorraine and Warren Reilly. Photo: Andrew Downes

Kathy Armstrong

A grieving father says he was "horrified" that a hospital did a review into his daughter's death without informing him or his wife.

Warren Reilly said he believes Portiuncula Hospital in Galway didn't tell himself or his wife Lorraine about the probe into baby Amber's death because they were afraid the family would sue.

The Reilly's daughters Asha and Amber were born in Portiuncula Maternity unit in 2008 and 2010.

Asha was stillborn at 30 weeks and Amber survived for a week before passing away at Holles' Street Hospital.

They are among 18 families whose baby deaths at the maternity unit were examined, it was found that in Asha's case there was a failure to recognise the signs of placental abruption and intervene to save her.

It was also determined that in Amber's case there was a failure to identify and respond to abnormal CGT tracings and to follow the guidelines in place for the management of a vaginal birth after a caesarean section.

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast today, Warren said: "In 2008 at 30 weeks pregnancy Lorraine presented to Portiuncula Hospital, early enough that something could have been done for her, but she suffered a massive placental abruption which went undiagnosed despite presenting hours before there was any danger to herself or Asha.

"In 2010 Amber was at 40 weeks, full term, Lorraine had a normal labour but it didn't progress as we would have hoped and a mistake was made in how to handle Lorraine that day, there was no consultant called in and unfortunately those mistakes resulted in Amber passing away."

Lorraine and Warren Reilly Photo: RTE screengrab
Lorraine and Warren Reilly Photo: RTE screengrab

Read More: Couple who lost babies receive hospital apology

A review took place into Amber's death in 2011 but Warren and Lorraine were not informed.

Warren, who is from Loughrea in Co Galway, said: "We only found out that review had been conducted in February 2015 when we followed up with Portiuncula about the review into a number of cases...

"We were horrified to think that this service would go ahead and do this review without even informing the families or looking for their participation and their input.

"Otherwise obviously all they can go on is staff input and medical notes, which doesn't give a full story of what happened to a family."

He continued to say: "Recently as part of looking into our own cases we did a Freedom of Information request into a number of emails and correspondence that went on in the hospital in 2011 and again when we were in touch with the hospital group in 2015, it was those emails that showed us they didn't want to do the review into Amber's care initially and only did so because they were afraid we were contemplating litigation.

"Initially we had no interest in doing so, we just wanted to know the review practises and that any potential mistakes had been learned from and that is still our focus today."

Read More: Parents of tragic girls hit out at maternity review delays

Lorraine and Warren Reilly, who lost two babies in two years
Lorraine and Warren Reilly, who lost two babies in two years

He also urged all medics to think of how their actions can have devastating consequences for families.

Mr Reilly said: "It's deeply upsetting that any family would have to push to find out any information like that but we believe the important thing now is that staff and administrators anywhere within the HSE realise the decisions they make affect real people.

"They have to step up to the mark and make sure that when they are considering anything within their roles they will consider the real people and they realise these things have real consequences for real people and real families.

"I believe there are people within the hospital doing a great job but overall the culture has to change."

He said that the family are coming to terms with their loss and they just hope it will prevent more tragedies.

Warren said: "We're doing good all things considered, it's been a very stressful time, particularly the last two years going through the review process but you just have to hope that all the effort you're putting in to highlight these things will be heard and they will actually make changes."

Read More: Portiuncula births review delayed again as distressed families wait

An external review of standards of care in the Galway unit is set to be published in the coming weeks.

In a statement the HSE Saolta Health Care Group – which has responsibility for Portiuncula Hospital – say they have written to Lorraine and Warren Reilly "... to apologise unreservedly and fully for the failures of care delivered to Lorraine that contributed to the likely preventable deaths of Asha and Amber."

They also state that the Reilly’s "...should have been previously informed..." about the 2011 review and they should have been "... given the opportunity to be involved."

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