Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Irish HSE apologises for ultrasound misdiagnosis of 24 babies

A report into revelations that women were wrongly told they had miscarried has uncovered a litany of training failures in Irish maternity hospitals.   

The National Miscarriage Misdiagnosis Review found that in the past five years alone, 18 women were incorrectly told at 16 public and private hospitals that their that their babies had died. A further six who suffered near-identical concerns before 2005, also insisted on their cases being examined. 
The report has caused major concern and distress to many other women who accepted similar diagnoses without question.

Inadequate staff training and over-reliance on ultrasound, according to the review, led to 24 women being wrongly told they had suffered a miscarriage. Two of the women subsequently lost their babies after undergoing medical procedures based on the misdiagnosis, while 22 went on to give birth. In eight cases, women were also given abortive drugs. see Irish Examiner report and yahoo.com news
The Health Service Executive (HSE) has apologised after the review revealed there had been no mandatory training in ultrasound in half of the cases examined. 

The inquiry was launched in June 2010 when Dublin mother Melissa Redmond revealed she had a baby boy after she was informed she had miscarried and was told to have a procedure known as dilation and curettage, carried out after a miscarriage, and an abortion-inducing drug.

Professor William Ledger, who chaired the review, said the 24 misdiagnoses occurred at the very early stages of pregnancy when ultrasound diagnosis alone is unreliable due to the risk of missing a tiny foetus or heartbeat.
"Over-reliance on ultrasound to diagnose a miscarriage in very early pregnancy has been repeatedly highlighted since the introduction of the technique in the 1970s and we have made recommendations that caution against the use of ultrasound alone to detect a pregnancy before eight weeks gestation," he said.
 The investigation, led by British expert Professor William Ledger found:

* Six cases where women underwent inappropriately early ultrasounds which did not indicate a foetal heartbeat and led to a D&C. Later scans confirmed they were still pregnant. Two of the pregnancies did not go full term with a "possibility" this was linked to the procedure.

* One case where a woman had six separate ultrasounds before it was confirmed she was still pregnant.

* Serious flaws in the training of all types of doctors in making miscarriage diagnoses.