Mother forced to fight for inquest into son’s death supports law changes

Róisín Molloy prasies legislation proposing automatic reporting of perinatal deaths to coroners

Mark and Róisín Molloy, whose baby, Mark, died at the Midland Regional Hospital, Portlaoise in 2012. Photograph: Eric Luke

Mark and Róisín Molloy, whose baby, Mark, died at the Midland Regional Hospital, Portlaoise in 2012. Photograph: Eric Luke

 

Róisín Molloy, whose son Mark died just 22 minutes after being born, has welcomed proposed changes to coroners’ laws as “another step in the right direction”.

Mark Molloy was the fifth child born to Róisín and Mark but died at the Midland Regional Hospital, Portlaoise, in January 2012.

His eventual inquest heard that medical staff should have responded to signs of foetal distress by delivering him up to 2½ hours earlier than they did, and returned a verdict of medical misadventure.

However, that inquest took place only because his parents were determined to make it happen.

Had they not persisted “there would have been no inquest because at that stage the hospital was saying he was stillborn”, said Ms Molloy.

But after securing hospital records, they were able to establish that their son had a heartbeat at birth. His case was recategorised as a neonatal death.

It was only after they met the coroner and passed on information to him, that they secured an inquest, she added.

Automatic reporting

Now, if proposed new legislation becomes law, cases such as Mark’s will be automatically reported to coroners who will make a determination on whether an inquest is required.

“When I think back on that, we lost faith very quickly with the HSE. We were advised two weeks after Mark died to get a solicitor. At that stage we felt we were on our own,” Ms Molloy said.

They felt the coroner’s court was the only avenue for an independent investigation at that stage.

Ms Molloy believes there should be no reason either why the death of a healthy woman in labour shouldn’t be automatically the subject of an inquest.

“[The proposed new legislation] is another step in the right direction. It will make it easier to have an inquest,” she said.

“For one, it’s telling families and society this is why this person died. That’s why the coroner’s court was set up. It’s not about litigation or finding fault.”