Midwife reported ‘barbaric’ treatment

Portlaoise Hospital
A midwife described as ‘barbaric’ the treatment of a patient by a consultant obstetrician in Portlaoise Hospital in the summer of 2012.

A midwife described as ‘barbaric’ the treatment of a patient by a consultant obstetrician in Portlaoise Hospital in the summer of 2012.

The mother of one from Portlaoise, whose file was reviewed as part of the Hiqa investigation into the hospital described how she almost died shortly after giving birth to a health baby girl.

The first time mum, who did not wish to be named, went into shock after the consultant obstretician on call tried to remove her placenta manually in the labour ward as it was slow to deliver, a practice which the midwife attending the birth said had not been done for years.

“My husband was told to sign a waiver form in case my heart stopped and he was asked did I want to be revived as I was wheeled to theatre” she recounts.

She continued: “While I was in theatre, my husband and my mam were told I had lost most of my blood and my heart had stopped but they would do what they could.”

“When I came round, I was getting blood in ICU. I got four units of blood in total.”

“My husband had to throw out his shoes are they were so covered in blood,” she adds.

In the incident review form, seen the by the Leinster Express, the Night Superintendent recalled how the midwife on duty was very upset following the incident and asked to speak with her in the Labour Ward Office.

The Night Superintendent recalls that the “midwife was visibly upset.”

The report said that the “Midwife expressed strongly that the treatment of this woman was wrong, using the word ‘barbaric’ and that she thought the patient was going to die.

The midwife also felt that the consultant obsterician was not able to deal with the emergency when the patient collapsed and she had started the treatment.

The midwife expressed concern in the report that the consultant was “the last port of call in a storm” and concern about her lack of decision making in an emergency.

However, the family were unaware that the report existed for over two years until they received a letter from Hiqa requesting permission to use their file as part of their investigation into the hospital.

The family made no formal complaint to the hospital, the HSE or any other organisation after their traumatic experience which has left this Portlaoise mum fearful for future pregnancies.

“I got a letter from Hiqa asking to use my file for the investigation but I had never reported my case so they told me that the midwife who was on duty that night reported the doctor on call for negligence.”

Patient Focus, the national patient advocacy organisation have since advised the patient to contact them in light of what happened to her. And the Minister for Health has also advised her to make a formal complaint and go to the Medical Council, if necessary.

“During all this time, I was never told any of this was out of the ordinary and for months after I thought there was a chance this would happen to me again if I have another baby,” she said.

“I was told if I felt unsafe about the hospital I could opt for another.

She continues: “All I can hope for my next pregnancy is that, from the start that I am under the care of a competent consultant and am treated as a high risk patient.

“More than anything, I want to be reassured, that should an emergency arise, that I don’t need to be afraid I’m leaving my family behind.”