The HSE and a hospital have apologised in the High Court to the family of a 36-year old mother who died less than three hours after giving birth to her second child.
Tracey Campbell-Fitzpatrick died in the early hours of Easter Monday 2016 after suffering a “massive” post-partum haemorrhage within minutes of the birth of her son Max at St Luke’s General Hospital in Kilkenny.
On Wednesday, her husband and family settled an action over her death against the HSE and the hospital. The settlement includes €700,000 for the care of Ms Campbell Fitzpatrick’s son Max who is now almost five years of age.
The hospital manager, in the letter read to the court, gave an unreserved apology “for the failings in the care” afforded to her at the hospital.
“I further apologise for the distress experienced by your family as a result of this tragic loss.”
The letter extended deepest sympathy to Ms Campbell Fitzpatrick’s family on behalf of hospital staff .
“We understand this apology cannot negate the adverse effect that the loss of your daughter, mother and sister has had on all your lives for which we are truly sorry,” it concluded.
Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told liability was admitted in the case when it went to mediation.
Outside court , Ms Campbell Fitzpatrick’s father James Campbell said his daughter was a fantastic mother, wife, daughter and sister and her death was unnecessary.
“This will not bring our Tracey back to us but at least we have uncovered the truth,” he said.
Referring to an admission of liability in the case, Mr Campbell said the family had been put through hell for the past five years in their fight “for this truth.”
“The truth is all that matters now,” he said.
“It is our hope that the HSE has learned from the horrendous failings in Tracey’s care to ensure greater patient safety in the Irish maternity services for all expectant mothers.”
Tracey’s husband Bernard Fitzpatrick, Nurney, Co Carlow had on behalf of the family sued the HSE .
It was claimed that the young mother suffered a severe post partum haemorrhage and for lack of effective intervention, she bled to death.
It was further claimed there was a delay in the recognition of post partum haemorrhage and a failure to have appropriate staff in place in time and a failure to transfuse blood in a timely manner.
The family ‘s counsel Aongus O’Brolchain SC told the court there were a number of “gushes” of blood during the time following Max’s birth at 12.55am on March 28, of 2016, and also a trickle between gushes. By about 1.25am her blood loss was estimated at 1.2 litres.
A decision was made to transfer her from the labour suite to the operating theatre for examination under anaesthetic, but she collapsed on the trolley on the way .
She suffered a cardiac arrest at 2.30am and the resuscitation team worked on her for over 70 minutes but she was pronounced dead at 3.45am.
Counsel said it was their case if there was intervention at an earlier stage as Ms Campbell Fitzpatrick was losing blood she would have lived.
Approving the settlement Mr Justice Cross offered his sincere sympathy to the Campbell and Fitzpatrick’s family on their loss.
He said while nothing could replace the loss of a wife, daughter, mother and sister the family had received an acknowledgement by the HSE in relation to liability. The judge said it was a very good settlement.