A new mother’s complaint about a series of failures at a hospital has been resolved after submitting a complaint to the Office of the Ombudsman.
The woman who had recently given birth was bleeding and suffering ongoing pain when she went for an ultrasound scan at the Midland Regional Hospital Mullingar.
But after the scan, she was not contacted by the hospital and she subsequently had to attend the Emergency Department.
She underwent a procedure to remove some tissue from her uterus, and it was discovered that she had developed an infection.
During her readmission to hospital the woman was never informed that she could keep her new baby with her.
The woman never received a six week follow-up appointment, and a discharge summary was never sent to her GP.
Eventually the woman received an apology from the hospital consultant but felt the full extent of her complaint had not been understood by the hospital.
When the case was brought to the attention of the Ombudsman Peter Tyndall, his examination showed that:
- The discharge summary was dictated but was not sent with a medical chart for typing. If the discharge summary had been typed, an appointment for a six week check would have been triggered.
- The ultrasound scan results had been sent to a junior doctor who was no longer involved in the woman’s care
- A copy of the report was issued to the consultant, but he did not receive it until much later
- Three letters sent by the woman’s GP to the hospital never received a reply.
The Ombudsman’s examination sparked a number of improvements in the hospital:
- the process for issuing discharge letters and follow-up appointments has become more streamlined and they are now prepared on the ward
- a ‘Birth Afterthoughts’ Service has started where a new mother can meet with a senior midwife and discuss any issues of concern
- the processes around the digital radiology system, which was new at the time, have improved.
The hospital has since sent the discharge summary to the GP and apologised to the woman for the upset and distress caused.
In a statement, the hospital said:
“While we cannot comment on individual cases, the staff and management at Regional Hospital Mullingar take the treatment and care of our patients very seriously.
“We encourage all patients who have a concern or a complaint about their care or the care of a family member to follow our complaints process and where a full investigation can be properly undertaken.”
The incident was included as a case study in the Office of the Ombudsman’s annual report for 2016, which was launched yesterday.
The Ombudsman deals with complaints from people who feel they have been unfairly treated by certain public bodies – for example, government departments, local authorities and publicly funded third-level education institutions.
This is one of 3,067 complaints the Ombudsman Peter Tyndall received last year.