‘My ante-natal care at Portlaoise was basically crap’
I was discharged with a prescription for penicillin, even though I said I was allergic
‘I left the surgery in a state of shock and vowed never to set foot in Portlaoise again.’
Ann [not her real name] is one of the women due an apology from the HSE over her care at Midland Regional Hospital, Portlaoise. She shared her story with Paul Cullen.
“My ante-natal care at Portlaoise was basically crap. I first went to the maternity unit in February 2013, when I was at 14 weeks. The doctor who saw me was unable to locate my blood pressure reading on the file and started crying. He told me it was his first day there; I told him it was my first day too. I asked to see a different doctor.
“I returned at 32 weeks, when I was suffering hyperemesis (severe morning sickness). This doctor advised me to “stop eating sweets” and that the baby was “getting too fat”.
“I told him I was sick and nauseous every day and mostly survived on toast and crackers. I later went for a private appointment and they told me my baby was below average weight.
“There was a definite language barrier with many of the doctors I dealt with ante-natally.
Sent for the consultant
“I went to the unit in August to have my baby. Things went fine at first and the midwives were great but after about nine hours they decided the baby was in an awkward position and sent for the consultant.
“The atmosphere changed. The consultant was very abrupt with the midwives and barely spoke to me or my husband. When my husband asked for a sick bag for me, as I was vomiting, a silver container was flung over to me.
“Eventually, my baby was delivered by episiotomy. This needed to be stitched but it took the junior doctors an exceptionally long time to do this – about 50 minutes.
“About nine days later, I came in to the unit after suffering a large bleed. I was in horrific pain and was put on intravenous antibiotics. After three days I was discharged with a prescription for penicillin, even though I had told the doctors I am allergic to penicillin.
“Over time, I found it increasingly uncomfortable and sore when sitting down, and I was referred for physiotherapy. In January, I attended a post-natal clinic, where the doctors told me I had a chronic infection at the site of the episiotomy and required surgery.
“The waiting time was nine months, I was told. I asked him what I should do in the meantime and he told me to take warm baths with almond oil. The doctor’s secretary said he could do the surgery privately within weeks.
“During my appointment, there was a midwife present but also another person who sat at the end of the table while I was being examined internally. To this day, I don’t know who this person was.
“I left the surgery in a state of shock and vowed never to set foot in Portlaoise again. I got my surgery done by a wonderful consultant in Kilkenny, where I also went to deliver my second child.
“I couldn’t drive or care for my baby on my own for a period due to the pain and even now I don’t like sitting on soft chairs. I would say the midwives in Portlaoise were great, and the help I got from Patient Focus was brilliant.
“The process of investigating my complaint has been diabolical. Staff met us and made promises, but were then moved on. When I got my file under Freedom of Information they included other women’s details; they couldn’t even get that right. At the end of the day, there is no accountability.”