Other Cases:

The MRSA Virus

MRSA infections occur mostly in hospitals and healthcare facilities, with a higher incident rate in nursing homes or long-term care facilities. Rates of MRSA infection are also increased in hospitalised patients who are treated with quinolones. Healthcare provider to patient transfer is common, especially when healthcare providers move from patient to patient without performing necessary handwashing techniques between patients. However, it should be noted that MRSA can cause infections outside of hospitals as well.

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Lourdes Hospital Inquiry

The Inquiry considered many submissions and interviewed a wide range of Medical and Nursing staff, Management, GPs, Members of regulatory and training bodies, patients and others. Almost 320 interviews with 280 witnesses were conducted.

The facts uncovered by the Inquiry revealed that any isolated institution which fails to have in place a process of outcome review by peers and benchmark comparators can produce similar scandals as those which occurred in the Lourdes Hospital.

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We provide support to a group of women who underwent this procedure. There are approximately 150 women in this group from all over the country. This is a group facilitated by Patient Focus.
Many of them suffer from serious side-effects of this operation. Many are in terrible pain and feel very angry that this operation was performed on them when a Caesarean Section should have been done instead. They never received a proper explanation about the procedure and the possible side-effects, in fact some of them were never told that they had the procedure and only found out many years later. Many of them did not consent to having this procedure.

What is Symphysiotomy?
Symphsiotomy is a surgical procedure carried out to effect an immediate dramatic release in the size of the pelvic outlet to permit normal delivery of a baby. The procedure involves the surgical division of cartilage of the symphysis pubis (where the pubic bones come together).

History of Symphysiotomy
Symphysiotomy was performed for the first time in 1635 by de la Courvee but as a postmortem operation. In 1768 Sigauly suggested it to the surgeons in Paris, but did not perform his first operation until 1777. Thsi was the forst recorded symphysiotomy. The woman Madame Souchet and her child survived, but the mother had a lot of problems in relation to incontinence and walking.

Though welcomed as a great innovation, the early results were not very promising. It was still however, preferable to Caesarean section which at that time was associated with an almost 100% risk of maternal death due to infection through poor hygiene and lack of antibiotics. For years the debate went on among obststricians: Symphysiotomy vs. Caesarean Section.

Symphysiotomies between 1900 and 1960 were exclusively performed in the predominantly Roman Catholic countries of Italy, Spain, France, Ireland and in some Latin American countries.

Research has shown that the procedure of symphiosotomy was performed in Ireland from the early 20th century. This was at a time when Caesarean Section had a high mortality rate due to sepsis (blood poisoning) and symphiosotomy was regarded as a life-saving measure for both mother and baby. From 1950’s onwards, symphysiotomy was gradually replaced by the modern Caesarean Section as antibiotics were available by then to treat infection and sepsis was less of a hazard.

Unfortunately some obstericians continued to perform the procedure much later than that and there is one recorded case of symphysiotomy in 1983 which was performed in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda, Co. Louth.

Side-effects of Symphysiotomy
Permanent Backache
Difficulty in Walking
Extreme Pain
Bowel Problems
Psychological Effects

Current situation:
Patient Focus has for many years worked with this group in trying to have an inquiry carried out into the use of this procedure in Ireland. We have had contact with the Human Rights Commission and the Department of Health and Children in this regard.

On 23rd February 2010 the Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney TD, requested the Institute of Obstetricians in Ireland to prepare a report for her consideration on the practice of Symphysiotomy in Ireland. Patient Focus has had discussions with the Institute with the view to agreeing terms of reference that would be acceptable to those affected.

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