Baby scan shock: Pregnant Rathcoole woman lodges complaint against hospital

Danielle McGookin with her partner, Ronnie Hartley.
Danielle McGookin with her partner, Ronnie Hartley.

The Royal Victoria Hospital has confirmed that an investigation is under way into claims by a pregnant Rathcoole woman that she was incorrectly informed by a doctor that her baby was dead.

Danielle McGookin, who is pregnant with her first child, was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital on May 18 suffering pains which made her fear that she was losing her 11-week-old baby.

After a two-hour wait, Danielle, who was accompanied by her partner Ronnie Hartley, was finally seen by a doctor.

She explained: “The doctor put the scanner across my tummy once and said he couldn’t see the baby and would have to do an internal exam. He said there was no heartbeat and the baby had no circulation. At that stage I felt as if the world had ended. It was awful.”

The couple then returned home, and Danielle says that for the next couple of days she was “an emotional wreck.”

Two days later, Danielle attended the Early Pregnancy Unit where, following a further scan, the situation rapidly changed.

“My partner was holding my hand and I was looking away from the screen crying and trying to bring myself to look at the baby. Then my partner said: ‘Is the baby moving?’ and the midwife replied: ‘This wee baby is alive!’ I think I actually screamed. It was amazing. It was like winning the lottery 100 times over.”

Yet despite the good news, Danielle says that her experience has seriously affected her enjoyment of her first pregnancy, and that she is still having nightmares that she will lose the baby. Her elation has also given way to anger.

Danielle has now lodged a formal complaint with the hospital, and is trying to put the experience behind her and prepare for the baby, which is due on December 9.

She concluded: “I’m trying not to let this put me off, as I have family friends who have had babies at the Royal and they said it was amazing.”

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Royal Victoria Hospital said: “We are sorry that this lady feels her care has fallen short. We are currently investigating several issues and we will respond to the family using the Trust complaints process in due course.

“In the early stages of pregnancy if for any reason no foetal heartbeat is detected, the woman is referred to our Early Pregnancy Unit, where a further scan will take place, to confirm the initial diagnosis. To minimise the understandable stress, this usually takes place within two or three days.”