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Dublin: 11°C Thursday 28 January 2021

Deaths of babies at maternity units investigated

The RTÉ Investigations Unit found that bereaved families were not told that investigations had taken place into their babies’ deaths.


(RTÉ TV promotions/YouTube)

THE DEATHS OF a number of babies at a Portlaoise hospital will be investigated in a special Prime Time programme this Thursday.

These babies were alive at the onset of labour but died either during the labour or within seven days of their birth at a Maternity Unit in Midland Regional Hospital in Portlaoise. All of the deaths occurred over a six-year period.

According to RTÉ, in the cases it examined there were no congenital abnormalities, which means that the babies “did not have a physical condition where their ability to survive was diminished resulting in death”.

“Therefore other factors led to their deaths,” it said.


The investigation points to one report into the death of a baby in 2008 which found there were a number of failings in the care provided by the hospital to both the mother and her child.

The report found that there was a failure to recognise when the baby was in distress during labour, and the inappropriate use of a drug used to increase the rate of contractions.

A number of recommendations were made in the report to improve patient safety.

But despite this, the RTÉ Investigations Unit said it has learned that other babies subsequently died “in very similar circumstances”.

The review of these cases also found failings in the care provided, while the care failures in these cases showed “strong similarities” to the failures in the earlier case.

The programme finds the hospital and HSE had failed to implement the previous recommendations in full, which may have saved these babies lives.

The programme will show that the team discovered that bereaved families were not told by either the hospital or the HSE that investigations had taken place into their babies’ deaths, or that a report had been published.

In one case, a mother learned of both the investigation and report five years after her baby died.

The show will be broadcast tomorrow at 9.35pm on RTÉ One.

Read: Portlaoise hospital cuts services to cut costs>

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