Coombe Hospital admits mistakes
Read the article appearing in the Sunday Business Post on 22nd November 2015:
Coombe Hospital admits mistakes after newborn tragedy
BY SUSAN MITCHELL ON NOVEMBER 22, 2015
Heartbroken parents not told why infant son died
Dublin’s Coombe Hospital, which is charged with overseeing maternity care at the beleaguered Portlaoise Hospital, has acknowledged it made mistakes during the delivery of a newborn baby who died in 2013.
The case at the Coombe has many similarities with the tragic death of baby Mark Molloy, whose parents have campaigned extensively for better maternity care.
The legal team representing the parents of baby Darragh Byrne told the Dublin Coroner’s Court last Friday that the hospital had failed to tell the parents why their son had died.
The legal team claimed that the full details of the case, and the failings by the hospital, only came to light when the parents initiated legal action.
Baby Darragh died of hypoxia, or a lack of oxygen.
During the directions hearing, the legal team representing the parents said the expert neonatologist they had instructed reported that he had rarely – in his entire career – seen a baby with such low ph levels in his blood.
Oxygen deprivation and ph levels are linked.
The legal team said the CTG machine, which measures the baby’s heartbeat during delivery was “uninterpretable” and that the baby was in distress for too long.
A drug called Syntocinon (Oxytocin), which speeds up delivery, was administered. There are many circumstances in which it is dangerous to both mother and baby to administer Syntocinon.
The legal team also said that that hospital had failed to adequately complete an incident report form. Barrister Sara Antoniotti said it meant the hospital would not be in a position to learn from its mistakes.
Antoniotti said baby Darragh’s mother had met with the master of the Coombe one year after her son died, but failed to get any clear answers. She then contacted Patient Focus, who put her in contact with Rachael Liston, a partner at Orpen Franks.
Antoniotti referenced the report of chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan into the care provided to families at Portlaoise Hospital. Holohan concluded that poor outcomes that could likely have been prevented were identified and known by the hospital but not adequately and satisfactorily acted upon. Hiqa subsequently carried out an investigation into the deaths of five babies at Portlaoise Hospital.
“It all sounds very familiar,” said Mark Molloy, whose baby son died at Portlaoise Hospital.
“We are still getting calls from people all over the country with similar stories. People are getting the same doors closed in their faces.”
Molloy said he was disappointed the government had not made open disclosure a legal requirement. “It’s internal policy, but that’s all,” he said.
But he said he believed the new patient safety initiatives announced by health minister Leo Varadkar would be a “game-changer. We can certainly say that things are changing with a new patient advocacy service and change to what the Ombudsman can do. We had nowhere to go. We contacted the Ombudsman’s office but they couldn’t help us because the HSE was investigating. Now the Ombudsman’s office will be able to investigate.”