The Galway woman at the centre of the third baby scan error has spoken of the “intense feeling” of guilt she experienced for not reporting her scanning misdiagnosis at University Hospital Galway in 2008.
Sharon Murphy, who is originally from Galway city but now lives in Gort, was about 12 weeks pregnant when she was referred to the regional hospital by her GP because she could not detect her baby’s heartbeat.
“This happened to me before and the doctor said it was not unusual. She sent me to UHG for a scan in June ‘08. I was called into the doctor’s office beside the admissions department - not the main scanning room - and a junior doctor scanned me. Nothing showed up on the screen. The doctor could not find the image of the baby. She said she’d have to do an internal scan but nothing showed up.
“She started asking me if I was pregnant at all and I had to justify myself. She said there is nothing here, the baby must have died, that I had a miscarriage. I said I had a miscarriage the previous year and would know the symptoms this time. Anyway, I had no bleeding. She told me to come back in three to four days and they’d do a pregnancy test. She was going to give me some hormone tablet leaving but I didn’t take it.”
Ms Murphy was “absolutely devastated” to be told she had lost her baby and was very upset, she says. Fortunately, her mother was with her and insisted on a second opinion.
“I wasn’t able to stand up for myself, thankfully my mother spoke up for me. My heart and stomach had sank with the news. The previous year I had a miscarriage and was scanned on the same machine, they couldn’t see anything that time either but when they took me to the main scan room it showed I was miscarrying at that stage. This time, I asked for a scan in the main scan room, I said I really wanted a second opinion. The doctor refused and only relented when my mother got cross. I was crying at this stage. When I was scanned in the main scan room my baby’s image came up straight away. I said I was told I had a miscarriage, that my baby had died.”
Her little girl "Saoirse Jane Murphy" is now 17 months old — she was born on the 5th January 2009
The 38-year-old mother of two daughters says when the baby scan error stories became public earlier this week memories of her own misdiagnosis flooded back.
“I watched the Primetime report regarding Melissa Redmond being wrongly told her baby was dead in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital. This brought back the thoughts of my similar experience, and I now have deep regrets that I never reported it to the HSE. At the time I was so upset and then delighted that the diagnosis was proven to be wrong, I did not think about other women coming after me. I now wish to speak out to encourage other women to trust their own instincts and always stand up for yourself and ask for a second opinion.
“I reported my case to the HSE this morning [Wednesday]. They told me they will investigate if the machine is still in use. I asked to make sure this machine and others like it are out of service. I now regret not making an issue of it, and hope no other women have gone through what I did, or worse what Melissa went through being given drugs to abort the baby.”