Maternity hospital defends safety record

Mount Carmel and two consultant obstetricians acknowledge fault in management of woman’s labour

Roberta Dodd looks at her husband David as he reads a statement outside the High Court on Tuesday. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Roberta Dodd looks at her husband David as he reads a statement outside the High Court on Tuesday. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times


A private maternity hospital has defended its safety record after it joined two consultant obstetricians in apologising to the parents of a baby boy who died soon after birth.

Mount Carmel Hospital and consultant obstetricians Valerie Donnelly and Gerry Rafferty also acknowledged fault in the management of Roberta Dodd’s labour leading to the death of her son, Senan.

The hospital in Churchtown, Dublin, and the two consultants sincerely apologised to Senan’s parents, David and Roberta Dodd, for the tragic loss of their baby and the hurt and suffering that resulted.

The apology was read to the High Court yesterday as the couple settled their action for mental distress and nervous shock for an undisclosed sum.

In a statement last night, the hospital reiterated its apology and said “any negligence in any hospital, where it is found to have occurred, is deeply regrettable.”

It said the most recent national audit, published last October, into the deaths of babies in the weeks before or after birth found Mount Carmel to be well below the national average.

It said the hospital had “robust clinical governance arrangements” in place and carried out twice-yearly assessments with its insurers to review all claims. “It is important to state that our insurers confirm that the level of claims involving Mount Carmel is not high,” it added.

The couple had sued Mount Carmel and consultants after the death of Senan two days after he was born at the hospital on March 28th, 2008. It was claimed the baby died due to negligence and breach of duty and the parents had suffered mental distress and nervous shock as a result.

It was alleged there was a failure to properly interpret or heed the significance of the serious abnormalities in the foetal heart rate pattern in a sufficiently prompt and timely manner and to ensure an earlier delivery.

Dr Rafferty had conditions imposed on his practice by the Medical Council last year after being found guilty of professional misconduct following his treatment of two women. In one case he failed to refer a woman on whom he had carried out a hysterectomy to a urologist and she subsequently lost the use of a kidney. In a second case he failed to refer a patient with a life-threatening ectopic pregnancy for treatment. She subsequently required emergency surgery.

Following the findings, the council recommended he be sanctioned and this was confirmed at the High Court.

A spokesman for Mount Carmel said Dr Rafferty was no longer with the hospital and had not been for some time.

Attempts to contact Dr Rafferty last night were unsuccessful.