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Dublin: 14 °C Monday 27 May, 2019
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Doctors told pregnant woman her baby had died. Two days later they found a heartbeat

The HSE has apologised and said a full review of the case is under way.

Image: Shutterstock/CristinaMuraca via Shutterstock

THE HSE HAS apologised to Dublin woman Aimee Nolan and her family after mistakenly telling the expectant mother that her baby had died — only to admit two days later that the hospital made a mistake.

26-year-old Aimee, who lives in Offaly, attended the Midland Regional Hospital in Portlaoise on Monday of this week after her local GP told her she couldn’t find a heartbeat.

“The GP did say not to panic and explained the baby could be too far down to hear,” she told Midlands 103, adding:

You automatically fear the worst, don’t you?

With her husband and three-year-old son Jack in tow, Aimee headed to hospital, and was waiting for around two hours before a doctor arrived to carry out another scan.

She, basically, was scanning me for literally two seconds and, just as blunt as you like, said ‘I’m sorry, but we can’t detect a heartbeat’ and that your baby is dead.

Aimee was “inconsolable,” she said.

And while she could “hardly take it in” herself, her young son was also hugely upset to see his mother in such a state.

God love him. I was just sitting there sobbing. He was like — ‘why are you crying, mammy? Why are you crying?’

The doctor told Aimee to come back the following week to discuss the next steps. One of the options, she was told, was a D&C procedure.

Source: The Midland Regional Hospital [Google Maps]

On returning home, Aimee and her husband broke the news to their family and friends. And after reflecting on what had happened, they decided they didn’t want to wait another week before heading back to the hospital.

They put in a phone call, and an earlier appointment was arranged for Wednesday morning.

The nurse and consultant who spoke to the couple “were really sympathetic” — but Aimee was surprised when there was a “knock on the door” during their meeting, and a senior doctor showed up to carry out a further scan.

“She came in, and straight away she scanned me.

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.

“They all just kept looking at each other [as if to say] how was this woman told that her baby was dead, and we can all clearly see that there’s still a heartbeat there.”

Her baby was fine. She was told: “That’s a strong heartbeat.”

Aimee didn’t know how to react…

Joy, anger, shock. I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry, lash out or ask ‘what the hell happened?… Why were we told our baby was dead?’

Review

In a statement, the HSE said it was aware of the circumstances of the case and that the matter was being “fully reviewed”.

“A consultant obstetrician met with the family yesterday and apologised,” the statement said.

The management of the Maternity Services at MRHP wish to apologise for any distress caused to the woman concerned and her family.

The HSE said that patients who attend its Early Pregnancy Assessment Unit out of hours are typically assessed by the non-consultant hospital doctor on call and “if clinically well are advised to attend EPAU at the next earliest appointment for further assessment”.

In accordance with national clinical guidelines “a diagnosis of miscarriage must be confirmed by a consultant prior to the instigation of a plan of management. This measure ensures the safe management of early pregnancy problems at the Maternity Unit”.

Read: ‘Concerns will be addressed in full’: Emotional Reilly says baby deaths are ‘disturbing’

Read: ‘We will get all the answers’ – Reilly says HIQA will review death of babies in Portlaoise

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