Belfast Telegraph

Doctors ‘should be ashamed’ after tragedy: coroner

By Patrice Dougan

A top coroner yesterday slammed doctors who released a pregnant woman from hospital just one month before she died, telling them they should be “ashamed of themselves”.

On the fifth day of an inquest into the death of Carla McAdam — who died from an ectopic pregnancy in September 2008 — the Belfast court heard how doctors discharged her from hospital after tests revealed negative results for an infection.

Carla was admitted to hospital in August 2008 after she collapsed in the shower with severe abdominal pain. Doctors initially examined her for signs of a placental abruption or premature labour, but later believed she was suffering from a urinary tract infection and sent her home with |antibiotics.

She was kept in the maternity unit of the Ulster Hospital, |Dundonald, for two nights and discharged when her symptoms appeared to have subsided, |despite laboratory results coming back two hours before she was sent home showing no signs of a urinary infection.

Senior coroner John Leckey questioned why she was released and how doctors, including consultant obstetricians, had failed to explore other reasons for her pain and collapse.

“I think that’s shocking,” he said. “If anyone thinks that’s good medical practice then I think they should be ashamed of themselves.”

He also lambasted the hospital for having “an obsession” with urinary tract infection diagnoses, while Carla’s ectopic pregnancy went unnoticed.

He added: “It’s a common theme that seems to be going through this (inquest); everyone seems to be talking about urinary tract infections.

“I get the impression that it’s an obsession in the hospital; everyone seems to be saying urinary tract infection because of a lack of diagnosis of anything else.”

He added: “Carla comes in after a collapse; that to me, as a lay person, is not suggestive of a urinary tract infection. It seems to me strange that you would say a collapse is a urinary tract infection.”

Dr Karen Woods, a specialist registrar in obstetrics and gynaecology, defended her position to discharge Carla, saying: “She was well, it appeared that whatever had caused the pain was resolved.”

Many of the dead woman’s family were shaking their heads throughout the discussions in court yesterday. Her fiancé Michael Reilly and mother Edna had their heads in their hands as some of the evidence was given.

The inquest is due to continue on Monday.

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