The Buck Stops Here

For anyone who has ever been diagnosed with a missed miscarriage, I expect that this week’s news about miscarriage diagnosis may well have proved somewhat unsettling. This latest health scandal only emerged when a woman who was wrongly diagnosed with a miscarriage, decided to go public with her story to encourage women in similar situations to get a second opinion if they have any doubts.  About a dozen women have subsequently come forward with stories of having been wrongly told by maternity hospitals that they were carrying dead babies, only to give birth later to healthy infants. More than 150 people have contacted emergency helpline numbers since yesterday. Health Minister Mary Harney is continuing to refuse to comment on the issue, claiming that it is a matter for the HSE.

*”The HSE has been forced to instigate an investigation into all suspected miscarriage misdiagnosis cases over the last five years in an attempt to uncover the true scale of the growing terminated pregnancies scandal. The review will focus specifically on women who were recommended drug or surgical treatment (D&C) to remove what was in reality a perfectly healthy foetus. The nationwide examination will focus initially on complaints by the expectant mother at the time of the incident. It will also examine a growing list of new cases which have come to light this week, and further disputed cases which may or may not involve miscarriage misdiagnoses. The review will be confined to the past five years. ”

Many moons ago, I was diagnosed with a missed miscarriage at the end of the first trimester of my 2nd pregnancy, having contacted the maternity hospital for advice as I’d noticed ‘spotting.’ An ultrasound scan was carried out by my obstetrician at the hospital and I was told that the pregnancy had failed. Apparently, there was no heartbeat visible, just an empty embryonic sac with a diagnosis of a ‘missed miscarriage’ and a referral for a D&C the following day. At the time, a missed miscarriage was medically referred to as a ‘missed abortion’ and the subsequent D&C was referred to as an ‘evacuation of the retained products of conception (ERPC). Having arrived at the hospital as an expectant mother, I left in tears with those horrific terms reverberating around in my head. When I returned to the hospital the next day, no further scan was done to confirm the diagnosis prior to the D&C being carried out under general anaesthetic. Following this week’s awful revelations, I’m amazed that I never thought to question the diagnosis. I suppose times were different then.

Mary Harney should know better than to pass the buck to the HSE. After all, she is the Minister for Health and Children.

* Information Source: Irish Examiner

5 Responses to The Buck Stops Here

  1. JBBC says:

    I wanted to write about this but just couldn’t bring myself to..so filled with sadness, shock, disgust…that words failed me. Glad to see they didn’t fail you though! Thanks for commenting on behalf of those of us who couldn’t bring ourselves to Steph.

  2. Steph says:

    JBBC – Thank you. My experiences of miscarriage are so long ago now, I can talk about them with ease but I’ve no doubt that this whole sorry saga will have re-opened wounds for many women, including yourself.

    Our public health service has been so badly run down over the years, it’s become like a ticking time bomb. News emerged this morning that the HSE has been robbing ‘Peter’ (development checks for babies) to pay ‘Paul’ (cervical cancer vaccine). It’s only a matter of time before the next scandal emerges.

  3. Baino says:

    are you saying that these women had D&Cs thinking their pregnancies were unsuccessful? That’s terrible. Although here, unless you actually ‘pass’ a miscarriage, you’re encouraged to take total bed rest and ultrasound at 14-16 weeks when the foetus is more viable and the ultrasound more reliable. Still, awful thing to have happen.

  4. Annb says:

    Is it just me or is the silence from the Irish pro-life lobby on this matter a little strange? After two very divisive referenda on abortion we are now in a legal limbo where we see conflicting rights to life of the unborn and the mother. However the HSE has no problem with providing us with a service that is so stretched that it can wantonly destroy viable life and just chalk it up to yet another ‘systems failure’. The moral and ethical foundation for our health service is beyond dodgy whatever about the administration or the logistics – who has the patient’s best interests at heart here? Is this another symptom of power-crazed patriarchy trying to control women’s reproduction like Michael Neary or the Hep C scandal?

    I’m finding it very difficult not to succumb to despair at the moment. Thanks for raising this Steph – I just couldn’t find the words to even start. I hope that this has not opened old wounds for you.

  5. Steph says:

    Baino and Annb

    My apologies for not replying sooner. I’ve been fighting yet another battle with my head so I’m hoping you won’t mind if I fail to give a proper reply to your comments. I hope to be back soon in fighting form.

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