A Cardiff NHS hospital that has been following “outdated guidelines” could have forced mothers to abort healthy babies.
Midwives investigating suspected miscarriages have been recommended to use an internal transvaginal scan opposed to the less accurate external Doppler Ultrasound procedure. However, at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff,, which delivers around 6,000 babies a year, this has not been the case – these flaws in hospital practice are thought to go back to 2006.
These problems came to the fore following the experiences of Emily Wheatley who went into the hospital for an ultrasound scan and was informed that her baby was dead. Accordingly, the hospital said she would need a ‘uterine evacuation’. Ms Wheatley, however, decided to go to another hospital and was told by midwives there that her baby was in fact still alive.
Following this incident the University Hospital of Wales has been ordered to pay Ms Wheatley compensation and to make immediate changes to the hospital’s practices following an investigation into clinical errors there by the Public Services Ombudsman of Wales which commented that clinical practices of midwives at the Cardiff Hospital in respect of diagnosis of miscarriage have been “potentially flawed”.
As a result of these findings a helpline has been set up for women who fear they have had terminations after being incorrectly informed that they had miscarried. Cardiff and Vale Health Board, that oversee the hospital, have offered an apology for their “unacceptable actions”.
This is, of course, not the first scandal to have recently affected the Cardiff Hospital. Data released last year, for the period covering October 2011 to September 2012 clearly showed the hospitals poor Risk Adjusted Mortality Index [which compares the number of deaths at a hospital with the number expected] – University Hospital of Wales, was easily the worst rated of all Wales’ district general hospitals.
The latest statistics also followed the earlier public criticism by Cynon Valley MP Ann Clwyd of the clinical care received by her dying husband at the University Hospital of Wales. The criticism was especially uncomfortable for the hospital given that Ann Clwyd is leading a review of how the NHS in England handles complaints.
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