Family of woman who died hours after giving birth gets apology from hospital and HSE

Tracey Campbell-Fitzpatrick (36) died at St Luke’s General Hospital, Kilkenny in 2016

James and Pauline Campbell, parents of the late Tracey Campbell Fitzpatrick of Nurney, Co Carlow, pictured speaking to the media on leaving the Four Courts after a High Court action. Photograph: Collins Courts

James and Pauline Campbell, parents of the late Tracey Campbell Fitzpatrick of Nurney, Co Carlow, pictured speaking to the media on leaving the Four Courts after a High Court action. Photograph: Collins Courts

 

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” postpartum haemorrhage within minutes of the birth of her son Max at St Luke’s General Hospital, Kilkenny.

In a letter read to the court as her husband and family settled an action over her death, the HSE and the hospital gave an “unreserved apology“ for the “failings in the care” afforded to the young mother at the hospital.

The letter from the hospital manager added: “I further apologise for the distress experienced by your family as a result of this tragic loss. “

It extended deepest sympathy to the family on behalf of hosptial 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.”

Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told liability was admitted in the case when it went to mediation. The settlement includes €700,000 for the care of Ms Campbell Fitzpatrick’s son Max, aged almost five.

Outside court, 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.

Horrendous failings

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. 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,” he added.

Tracey’s husband Bernard Fitzpatrick, Nurney, Co Carlow, had, on behalf of the family, sued the HSE . It was claimed she suffered a severe postpartum haemorrhage and, for lack of effective intervention, bled to death.

It was further claimed there was a delay in the recognition of postpartum haemorrhage, 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 told there were a number of “gushes” of blood during the time following Max’s birth at 12.55am on March 28th of 2016, and 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 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 their case was, if there was intervention at an earlier stage, Ms Campbell Fitzpatrick would have lived.

Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Cross offered his sincere sympathy to the Campbell and Fitzpatrick families on their loss.

While nothing could replace the loss of a wife daughter, mother and sister the family had received an acknowledgment by the HSE in relation to liability, he said. It was a very good settlement, he added.