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Report on death of Irish IVF patient published

31 July 2007
Appeared in BioNews 418

A report on the circumstances surrounding the 2003 death of Irish IVF patient Jacqueline Rushton has been published. The report was commissioned by the Republic of Ireland's Health Service Executive (HSE), and written by Alison Murdoch of the Newcastle Fertility Centre and independent healthcare consultant Stuart Emslie.

Rushton, a 32-year-old nurse, was treated at the Human Assisted Reproduction Ireland unit of Dublin's Rotunda Hospital. She was admitted to this same hospital on 8 December 2002, after she was found to be overreacting to her IVF treatment, and was subsequently transferred to Dublin's Mater Private Hospital. Despite initially appearing to make a recovery, she collapsed and was placed on a ventilator, which was switched off on 14 January 2003. The cause of Rushton's death was found to be acute respiratory distress syndrome, a rare complication of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome - itself a complication associated with IVF, where fluid from the bloodstream leaks into the abdominal cavity and causes it to swell.

The report concludes that there were problems with the management of Rushton's care, compounded by a lack of senior control and inconsistent compliance with official guidelines for treating her condition. The report recommends regular care audits, in which it is incumbent upon hospitals to prove standards rather than merely claiming to have them, together with and a review of in-house protocol in all general hospitals and IVF clinics.

Rushton's family have declared themselves satisfied with the outcome of the report, and they have instructed their solicitors to drop legal proceedings against the health authorities. They have also expressed their hope that the report's recommendations will prevent another family from going through the same ordeal. The Irish Patient Association has said that the episode raises significant questions about patient care. Irish health minister Mary Harney has announced that immediate steps are being taken to implement these recommendations across HSE hospitals.

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3 December 2012 - by Matthew Young 
Couples in Ireland undergoing IVF treatment will now be able to access tests to check for genetic and chromosomal conditions. Previously couples had to go abroad for the tests, which are widely offered in the UK, but they have now been licensed for use in two Irish clinics.
29 October 2012 - by Maria Sheppard 
A man is suing Barts and the London NHS Trust after his wife died from a rare complication while undergoing IVF treatment, reports the Mirror....
21 November 2011 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
An advisor to the Irish Government on child protection has expressed his 'profound concern' that failing to legislate in the area of assisted reproductive technologies (ART) may result in children's rights being violated....
1 July 2005 - by BioNews 
A UK woman left brain-damaged after a stroke caused by a rare side effect of IVF treatment is set to receive 'very substantial' agreed damages. The 34-year-old patient, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, became pregnant but then developed ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). Fertility doctor Paul Rainsbury, of...
18 April 2005 - by BioNews 
A woman who was undergoing fertility treatment in the UK has died, a few days after she began the IVF process. Temilola Akinbolagbe, who was 33 years old, is understood to be the first woman to die as a result of the treatment in the UK. Only three other women...
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