Call for review of procedures

A MATERNITY care support group has called for a review of all pregnancy scanning procedures, not just for the early stages, following the publication of a report into the miscarriage diagnosis scandal.

A MATERNITY care support group has called for a review of all pregnancy scanning procedures, not just for the early stages, following the publication of a report into the miscarriage diagnosis scandal.

The National Miscarriage Misdiagnosis Review Report was instigated last June following revelations by a pregnant woman who was misdiagnosed as having miscarried at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda.

The report has prompted the Association for Improvements in Maternity Services in Ireland (AIMS) to call for the changes to pregnancy scanning procedures.

The investigation was launched after Melissa Redmond revealed in the media last year that she had attended Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda for a scan in 2009 and was incorrectly told she had miscarried.

Mrs Redmond was told to have a D&C procedure and to take an abortifacient drug. However, after going back to her GP she had a second scan which showed a fetal heartbeat.

The mother-of-three who had previously suffered miscarriage gave birth to a healthy baby, her son, Michael, the following March.

A report into the incident found the diagnosis was based on the opinion of only one doctor, while it was preferable that a sonographer should confirm such a diagnosis.

The report also found problems with equipment, facilities, staffing and scanning practice guidelines at the hospital unit.

The recently published report examined the circumstances in which approximately two dozen pregnant women were told they had lost their baby, only to subsequently find they had not.

It looked at suspected cases of misdiagnosis over the last five years, but now AIMS wants the scope of the investigation to be expanded to include the past ten years.

AIMS spokeswoman Krysia Lynch said the sheer number of potential cases indicated more women have potentially suffered.

However, Independent review chair Professor William Ledger and Head of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Sheffield University has ruled out extending the review.

The HSE has apologised to the women affected for the distress that will undoubtedly have been caused to them and their families. Prof Michael Turner, HSE National Clinical Lead for Obstetrics and Gynaecology, is leading a programme of change in maternity services nationwide.

He said: “New clinical guidelines on early pregnancy loss...are in place in hospitals since earlier this year and will allow for time delays, where the woman wishes it, to confirm a miscarriage diagnosis. Decisions to make medical or surgical intervention will only be made by senior clinicians who are appropriately trained in early pregnancy care.”