Doctors in Ireland are encouraging additional and more thorough readings of fetal scans for pregnant women, as well as for equipment to be updated regularly, in the wake of news that three different women were wrongly informed that they had miscarried.
In the most high profile of the three cases, Melissa Redmond was eight weeks pregnant when she was told late last year by doctors at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, that her baby had died. Just prior to undergoing a procedure to have the fetus removed, Redmond sought a second opinion, where it was determined that her child was, indeed, alive.
The boy, Michael Jr., is now 13-weeks old according to BBC News.
"The health scanner [at Our Lady of Lourdes] was not fit for purpose," Redmond's husband, Michael, said. "[I]t was six years old and needed to be changed....[It] was finally changed six months after our diagnosis."
A second mother, Gillian Dargle, was told by doctors at Louth County Hospital in Dundalk, that there was no fetal heartbeat 13 weeks into her pregnancy. A second scan confirmed the finding, but a third scan, performed on the morning she was to have the fetus removed, contradicted the other two.
Dr. Peter McParland of Dublin's National Maternity Hospital said that doctors need to realize that ultrasounds are "not infallible" and that extra caution should be taken prior to a fetus-removal procedure.
Those sentiments were echoed by Dr. Barry White, national director of Quality and Clinical Care for the Health Service Executive, Ireland's version of the Department of Health and Human Services.
"I would accept that in most situations a mandatory scan would seem to be the appropriate way to go, regardless of what the best practice is internationally," White said, according to the Irish Times. "To me, it seems like the safest option."