Investigation reveals ‘extreme’ maternity incident reports

There were over 1,300 incidents across maternity hospitals last year

Maternity hospitals dealt with a total of 67 “extreme” incidents last year which led to permanent incapacity or death, according to figures released by the State Claims Agency

Maternity hospitals dealt with a total of 67 “extreme” incidents last year which led to permanent incapacity or death, according to figures released by the State Claims Agency

 

Maternity hospitals dealt with a total of 67 “extreme” incidents last year which led to permanent incapacity or death, according to figures released by the State Claims Agency.

An RTÉ Prime Time investigation aired on Thursday night revealed that there were over 1,300 incidents across maternity hospitals last year which required medical treatment, including three “major” incidents which resulted in long-term disability.

The programme highlighted three cases where no incident was recorded and reviews were only initiated after threats of legal action, including that of Grace Vaughan who was diagnosed with septicaemia following the birth of her second child in March 2013.

The Navan woman said she left Cavan General Hospital in a wheelchair as she was suffering from severe pain, and later spent three weeks in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda recovering from the infection.

Her experience came just four months after the news broke of the treatment given to Savita Halappanavar, who miscarried and later died from septicaemia in Galway University Hospital.

Ms Vaughan spoke of her frustration at not being able to contact either hospital for half a year after the birth of her son, and was sceptical of the response when it did eventually come from Cavan Hospital.

“I was cynical about the phone call, I was cynical about the health system, I am cynical about cover-ups. She said ‘Grace you left this hospital fine’, and I said ‘how can you say that?’.” She received a written apology from HSE director general Tony O’Brien last week, who confirmed that an external review of her case is underway.

The episode also focussed on the case of baby Caoimhe Mulcair who died shortly after birth at Limerick University Hospital in 2009. Following repeated denials of liability from the hospital, the HSE made an out-of-court settlement with her parents last December after an admission of clinical negligence.

In March, The Irish Times revealed that HSE acute hospitals paid out almost €67 million in compensation for medical malpractice during birth procedures from 2010 to 2014.

Last year, eight year-old Gill Russell received €13.5 million – the largest ever personal injury settlement in the history of the State – as a result of brain damaged caused during a delivery at Erinville Hospital in Cork.