HSE apologises following death of baby at Cavan hospital

Parents, who settle action for nervous shock, were told to take dead baby out back door

The HSE has apologised in the High Court to a couple over shortcomings in care which resulted in the death of their baby, who was still born at his birth, at Cavan General Hospital.

The apology was read as part of a settlement of two actions for nervous shock taken by the parents of baby Padraig Eugene McArdle-McElroy, who was still born at birth in June 2009.

Brian Foley BL read a statement on behalf of the HSE, the RCSI Hospital Group and staff and management of Cavan General Hospital which expressed "sincere apologies" for the "shortcomings in management and care" at the time of Padraig's mother's admission to maternity services in June 2009.

The statement said: “We acknowledge that those shortcomings resulted in the death of your baby son Padraig Eugene on June 28th, 2009. We extend our sincere apologies for the distress and suffering that this has caused to both of you and your extended family.”


Agnes McArdle and Finbar McElroy, Smithboro, Co Monaghan had sued the HSE for nervous shock arising out of the death of their infant son.

Ms McArdle had self referred to the hospital on June 27th 2009 because she and Mr McElroy were concerned there was little foetal movement.

She was assessed and CTG tracing was commenced. After midnight, she was in pain and it was claimed she was left unexamined in the maternity ward for one hour and forty minutes after being transferred there from the labour ward.

She was then returned to the labour ward and the foetal heart rate was recorded and an ultrasound carried out.

A second scan at 2.30am showed the baby was dead and Ms McArdle subsequently had a caesarean section at around 4.48 am.

The couple claimed they never received a written reply to the letter they later sent to the HSE seeking an explanation of the events.

It was claimed there was failure to ensure the foetal heartbeat would be monitored properly and continuously and the circumstances surrounding the labour, delivery and death of baby Padraig has been extremely traumatic and shocking.

The couple claimed, when they came back to the hospital to arrange removal of the baby’s remains, they were advised to take him via the service lift to the back entrance of the hospital.

When they said they wanted to take him out the front door, they received a phone call asking them again if they would prefer to take the remains out the back entrance, they said. This added further to their already distraught state, they said.

Denis McCullough SC, with Vincent P Martin SC, told the court the case for nervous shock by the parents had been settled.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross noted the settlement and extended his sympathies to the Mc Ardle-McElroy family on their sad loss.

Outside court, Shane Kennedy, solicitor for the family, read a statement on behalf of Padraig's parents. He said Padraig was tragically a full term still birth born on June 28th 2009 at Cavan General Hospital.

“Of course the clock can’t be put back but Padraig’s parents hope no other family has to go through this traumatic loss,” he said. The darkest hour for the parents happened on June 28th 2009 and the delay in reaching a conclusion of the case had been “a harrowing experience”, he said.

“They hope that a more humane and compassionate way can be put in place to deal with these type of cases,” he added.