Review of miscarriage misdiagnoses questioned

A leading patient support group in Ireland today questioned a review of all recorded cases of misdiagnosed miscarriage in the country over the last five years.

A leading patient support group in Ireland today questioned a review of all recorded cases of misdiagnosed miscarriage in the country over the last five years.

Amid fears errors on scans could affect hundreds of women, experts will be checking results for those recommended drug or surgical treatment to remove a dead foetus despite having a viable pregnancy.

About a dozen women have come forward this week warning they were wrongly told they had miscarried, only to give birth later to healthy infants.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) said more than 150 worried women have called helplines concerned about their treatment at maternity units and hospitals.

But Cathriona Molloy, patient advocacy co-ordinator with support group Patient Focus, said the review may not go back far enough.

“It’s right across the country,” she warned.

“It there’s any doubt at all the doctor needs to get a second opinion. Being pregnant is such a precious thing to be wiped out like that without listening to the mother.

“We had a couple of calls from people who didn’t want to ring the helpline, who just didn’t trust it – maybe they feel damaged by the system.”

Patient Focus said it received four calls from women who said they had had experiences similar to those of the first woman who came forward with her story of a misdiagnosed miscarriage, only to give birth to her son three months ago. The group spoke to worried women in the South East, Galway and Drogheda.

Dr Barry White, HSE national director for quality and clinical care, said misdiagnoses which came to light this week were unacceptable.

“In a number of the cases discussed in the media in recent days the practices were unacceptable and this reinforces the need to implement standardised care across the system and to ensure compliance with this by audit and review.”

A number of other steps were also being taken along with the review:

:: All public and private Obstetrics facilities were being written to and warned that consultant obstetricians must approve the use of drugs or surgical intervention following a miscarriage diagnosis.

:: A guidance document for the management of early pregnancy loss would be developed with the Institute of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

:: The HSE said further information on total numbers of incidents and locations, would be provided once the review was completed.

The HSE said there were more than 70,000 births in Ireland each year and approximately 14,000 miscarriages.

Earlier this week the HSE said they had stepped up precautionary measures after a pregnant woman was wrongly told her unborn baby was dead.

Medics arranged for Melissa Redmond, from Donabate, north Dublin, to take abortive drugs and have an operation to remove the foetus after a faulty scan misdiagnosed a miscarriage.

But she said her motherly instincts prompted her to seek out a second opinion just a day before the dilation and curettage (D&C) procedure was planned in a move that saved her now 13-week-old baby boy.

HSE bosses said they had taken a number of measures at Drogheda’s Our Lady Of Lourdes Hospital to ensure there was no repeat of the “near miss incident”.

Mother-of-three Melissa, who had suffered miscarriages before, went to Our Lady Of Lourdes Hospital for a scan while eight weeks into her pregnancy on July 22 last year.

After the scan she was told the pregnancy would not progress and was administered with the abortive drug Cytotec to take on the morning of the D&C operation to remove the foetus, scheduled for two days later.

But after getting morning sickness again at her friend’s home the next day, Melissa decided to get a second opinion from a local GP.

Melissa gave birth to her baby boy, Michael, on March 6 this year.

The HSE confirmed the faulty scanner continued to be used for six months after the misdiagnosis.

Fine Gael and Labour have demanded an investigation by the Health Information Quality Authority.

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