herald

Wednesday 29 March 2017

Mum's death is blamed on overstretched wards

PRESSURE on services was the main factor in the death of a mother at Dublin's Rotunda hospital, a report has said.

The 31-year-old's baby also died in the womb before the woman was due to attend the hospital for an induced labour procedure.

Dr Sam Coulter Smith, Master of the Rotunda, said this was classed as a 'direct maternal death' and aspects of her management "related to the extreme activity levels in the hospital" contributed to her death.

Earlier this week, Dr Coulter Smith warned "resources were so stretched" that he feared that a bad outcome was a real possibility. Although the woman is not named, it is understood to be Bimbo Onanuga, a 31-year-old from Nigeria.

She was previously the subject of an unpublished report, and the precise circumstances of her death have not previously been disclosed.

However, the annual report reveals she had a scan at the hospital when she was 28 weeks pregnant which showed her baby had died in the womb.

She was due to return for an induced labour but the day before her outpatient appointment she collapsed with a ruptured uterus.

The stillborn baby was delivered by emergency caesarean section as staff struggled in vain to resuscitate her.

She suffered severe blood loss and her heart was unable to pump enough blood to the body.

The coroner's post mortem confirmed the ruptured uterus, which was probably due to complications suffered during a previous termination of pregnancy.

In its annual report for 2010, the Rotunda noted that three women who had attended the hospital during that year had died.

While two of the deaths had nothing to do with the care received by the patients in the hospital, the third death is understood to be that of Ms Onanuga.

One woman (39) was involved in a road traffic accident and the other -- who gave birth safely -- died in another hospital three months later of a brain haemorrhage.

The report showed the hospital delivered 8,792 babies last year but this is set to soar to 9,200 this year.

The problems faced by the hospital include understaffing and an outdated building.

The rate of caesarean section fell slightly to 27.9pc of mothers compared to 28.5pc the previous year.

Dr Coulter Smith said this was partly due to introducing extra doctors in the labour ward to deal with emergencies.

He highlighted the problems of women from disadvantaged communities, including foreign nationals coming to Ireland, who are at higher risk of maternal illness or death.

"The one direct maternal death this year (2010) is another example of this situation and further highlights the careful risk assessment that needs to be performed for these patients," he added.

csheehy@herald.ie

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