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Newborn died in ambulance after Turkish hospitals 'offered no care at all'

But what does it mean for Ireland?

THE TURKISH STATE has been found to have breached human rights laws after a newborn baby died after he was refused admission to hospital.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled that the state had not sufficiently ensured the proper organisation and functioning of the public hospital service, or its health protection system.

Implications of the ruling could impact Ireland’s health system in certain circumstances.

The baby, born in 2005, developed breathing difficulties soon after birth at a public hospital, but his parents were told there was no suitable neonatal unit.

The hospital recommended the child be taken by ambulance to a separate hospital 110km away, only for the baby to be turned away on arrival due to a lack of space at the hospital.

The baby died in an ambulance en route back to the first hospital.

The ruling read:

The child had died not because of negligence or any error of judgment in the care dispensed to it, but because it was offered no treatment at all.

It added that the staff at the first hospital should have ensured there was space available elsewhere, noting that the staff could ‘not have been unaware’ of the risk facing the child.

Turkish authorities were also held responsible for not carrying out an investigation to establish the basic reasons or system failures in the case.

“There had been no attempt to ascertain how the protocols applicable to the admission of new-born babies to the emergency unit or to coordination between the neonatal services had been implemented, or to establish the reasons for the lack of basic facilities in those services, in particular incubators,” the ruling added.

‘No case to answer’

A criminal and administrative investigation were both discontinued as ‘there was no case to answer’.

The mother of the child was awarded €65,000 in damages, as the Turkish state failed its obligations under Article 2 – the right to life.

Dr Adam McAuley, an expert in medical law from Dublin City University, said the important aspect of this case for Ireland was the need to ensure proper communications were in place, due to the labyrinth of health services available.

He said set processes at national level are crucial.

McAuley added that it was crucial that any investigations highlight potential system failures.

However, he noted that it’s unlikely that a patient in an Irish hospital would be outright refused treatment, as happened in the case ruled on today.

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