Inquiry into death of newborn after mother is transferred to Lisbon due to lack of incubators in Faro
A government inquiry has been launched into the death of a newborn baby whose mother had to be transferred to the Amadora-Sintra Hospital near Lisbon due to a lack of incubators at Faro Hospital.
The Algarve’s state hospitals management board (CHUA) has denied any responsibility saying that it followed all normal procedures. When there is a lack of incubators, women are transferred to the nearest hospital with available equipment, which was Amadora-Sintra.
Correio da Manhã tabloid reports that doctors at Faro Hospital suspected that the pregnant woman showed symptoms of preeclampsia – a pregnancy complication characterised by high blood pressure. If left untreated, preeclampsia can lead to serious or even fatal complications for the mother and the baby.
But as there were no available incubators on Friday (August 2), the woman had to be transferred by ambulance to the Amadora-Sintra Hospital nearly 300 kilometres away.
It was initially reported that the baby was born by caesarean the following morning and died just minutes after birth, but it has since been confirmed that the baby died two days later.
Público newspaper also reports that a hospital source has confirmed allegations by the family that no autopsy was carried out.
The Public Prosecutor’s Office has launched an inquiry into the case, while both hospitals (Faro and Amadora-Sintra) are also reported to be carrying out their own investigation.
In an official statement released shortly after the news was revealed, the Amadora-Sintra hospital said that the 23-year-old mother was “immediately assisted and received the medical care that was deemed necessary, which has already been confirmed by an inquiry”.
Meantime, the president of the national doctors’ association Miguel Guimarães says the case has to be duly investigated.
He believes that if the baby’s death was caused by a lack of resources in the Algarve, then “the Ministry of Health will have responsibility”.
Algarve MP Cristóvão Norte has also weighed in, claiming that the pregnant woman “waited several hours for an ambulance” and that Faro Hospital does not have “enough room or incubators”.
“It’s all too awful to be true,” he said, adding that the process of transferring pregnant women to other hospitals only increases the risks of “something going wrong”.
“These episodes are becoming more and more common, and only aren’t worse because there are many (health) professionals who work extraordinarily hard,” Norte added.
Photo: SARA ALVES/OPEN MEDIA GROUP