A pregnant woman who was wrongly told her baby had died has called for a HSE investigation into her case at the Midlands Regional Hospital in Portlaoise.
Aimee Nolan presented at the hospital on Monday after her GP became concerned about a lack of foetal movements.
After a scan, she was told there wqas no foetal heartbeat and the baby she has been carrying for 14 weeks was measuring as a nine-week-old foetus, so had not grown for five weeks.
Ms Nolan told RTE's Prime Time: "She couldn't detect a heartbeat and said that our baby was actually dead and had not grown. I am 14 weeks' pregnant and she said that it was nine weeks, so it had more than likely been dead for five weeks."
Speaking to Will Faulkner on Midlands 103, Ms Nolan said: “She basically scanned me straight away, for literally two seconds, and just as blunt as you like she just said ‘I’m very sorry but we can’t detect a heartbeat’ and that ‘your baby’s dead’. I just looked at my husband in shock. I didn’t know what to do."
She was asked to come back to the hospital two days later - last Wednesday - for a dilation and curettage (D&C) – a procedure to scrape and collect tissue from inside the uterus. When she returned to the hospital two days ago another scan showed her baby was alive, of normal size for its stage of development and had a healthy heartbeat.
“When she put the thing on me to scan me, straight away I saw that the baby had a heartbeat because it was flickering away and it looked like a normal size to me,” said Ms Nolan.
“They all just kept looking at each other like ‘How was this woman told that her baby is dead?’” She was told her baby was not only alive, but was measuring at the correct size for 14 weeks and had a healthy heartbeat.
“I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry, lash out, ask what the hell happened… why were we told our baby was dead and then when we come in two days later it’s not measuring nine weeks, it’s actually measuring 14 weeks and it has a heartbeat?”
Solicitor Rachel Liston said the Aimee Nolan was "absolutely traumatised".
Ms Nolan said following the second scan, a staff member requested her patient file to see who conducted the initial scan on Monday. She said this person subsequently found Ms Nolan’s file had no scan picture, no baby measurement, and no record of anything carried out during her appointment on Monday.
The Nolans were also told that when there was no heartbeat detected on the previous scan, hospital protocol stated that a second opinion should have been sought on the day. However, this did not happen.
Ms Nolan says the situation caused her a huge amount of stress and grief.
“We had all of our family and friends told. We were grieving for this baby. I was inconsolable,” she said. “I rang my own GP and she said I could have easily miscarried my baby after hearing the news of that because I was so inconsolable.”
Ms Nolan has decided not to have her baby at Midland Regional. “I’m going to my GP today to have all my files sent over to Mullingar. I just don’t feel comfortable. I’d be uneasy having my baby in Portlaoise,” she said.
“Something has to be done about this. If we all don’t stand up and speak about it it’s going to keep happening and innocent babies are going to die because of it.”
An obstetric consultant at the hospital has apologised to Ms Nolan and her family.