Non-recording of maternal deaths not easily addressed says professor

CSO state one maternal death in Ireland last year, despite hospitals recording more

Praveen Halappanavar’s wife Savita died from septicaemia at Galway University Hospital on October 28th 2012. Photograph: Cyril Byrne /The Irish Times

Praveen Halappanavar’s wife Savita died from septicaemia at Galway University Hospital on October 28th 2012. Photograph: Cyril Byrne /The Irish Times

 

A member of the Maternal Mortality Working Group in Ireland has said the issue of under-recording of deaths of women during pregnancy or labour is unlikely to be easily addressed.

Professor Richard Greene was commenting on RTÉ Radio about recent CSO figures which found only one woman died while giving birth in Ireland during 2012, despite some hospitals recording other maternal deaths.

The CSO data recorded the woman died in the last quarter of 2012 and is believed to refer to the death of Savita Halappanavar last October.

“I think the reality is probably the best way to get statistics has been identified in the way we undertake the audit in the MDE [Maternal Deaths Enquiry],” he said.

“This has been developed as the gold standard by the English Confidential Enquiry, which has been running for over 50 years.

“The WHO [World Health Organisation] have looked at this internationally and reckon that there is a factor of between 1.5 and 2.5 that needs to be applied to the national statistics of most countries to actually give a true estimate of the number of deaths.”

Despite only one maternal death noted by the CSO, which is officially marked as “complications of pregnancy, childbirth and puerperium”, the Coombe Maternity Hospital has reported two deaths last year, while three maternal deaths were reported in Cork University Hospital.

The most recent figures from MDE state that Ireland’s maternal death rate from 2009 to 2011 was 8 per 100,000 births, while the CSO figures state that the death rate during the same period was 4 per 100,000.