In 2009, Philips, the manufacturers of Avalon Foetal Monitors, issued a device recall due to many complaints that certain models of the machine were taking inaccurate readings.
It is reported that the company warned hospitals to put corrective action in place due to injury or death to mothers and babies.
The recall was sent to 11 Irish hospitals, including the Midland Regional Hospital, Portlaoise. In Portlaoise five cases emerged of issues with the interpretation of foetal traces.
RTÉ reports that the HSE has formed a six member committee to establish if appropriate action was taken in response to the 2009 recall.
In the wake of investigations into Portlaoise by various bodies, the maternity unit was put under the governance of the Coombe Womens and Infants Hospital. Since then births have risen.
In December 2017, the Portlaoise maternity unit became one of the first service in smaller hospitals that began using a new Anatomy Scanning Service.
Speaking at its launch in January, Dr Michael O’Connell is Clinical Director for Integration, Coombe Women & Infants University Hospital and Portlaoise Hospital said:
“As one of the first of the smaller maternity units to offer an anatomy scan to all patients, it demonstrates the value of managed clinical network in aligning services between larger and smaller maternity units to the benefit of women who attend the service.
"This project has been an important development in advancing maternity care for women in collaboration with the managed clinical network existing with the CWIUH and forms a key component of our continued quality improvement for maternity services,” he said.
In 2017, the number of mothers delivered in Portlaoise was 3% ahead of expected activity, with 1,531 babies born. Births were also ahead of target in 2016.
The birth rate at Portlaoise is higher than a number of hospitals of similar size.