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Inquest date proposed for pregnant Nigerian’s hospital death

REFORMS: The Rotunda Hospital where Bimbo Onanuga died

AN INQUIRY into the hospital death of a pregnant Nigerian woman is expected to start in May.

The inquest is set to take place at Dublin City Coroner’s Court, in Store Street, Dubin, between “late April and early May” the Coroner’s Office has confirmed.

Bimbo Onanuga’s solicitor and her family have said the inquest would now go ahead.
But lawyers for Onanuga’s family told The Voice they were pushing for a date before the inquest to have remaining questions surrounding the 32-year-old’s death answered.

Onanuga was seven months pregnant when she died in a hospital in Dublin, Ireland, on March 3, 2010. Her death happened just days after she was turned away from the Rotunda Hospital.

DECISION

Coroner Brian Farrell initially ruled out the need for an inquest, a decision opposed by campaigners such as the Irish branch of the Association for Improvements in the Maternity Services (AIMS) and Akidwa, the network for African women in Ireland.

Akidwa’s chief executive Salome Mgbua welcomed the news, telling The Voice: “I think this is probably because of the pressure they got from different people to have an inquest. They feel Bimbo was treated very badly. I think that it’s very good that the inquest is actually happening.”

Onanuga had been referred to the Rotunda Hospital on March 1, where she was told her baby had died in the womb. The 32-year-old was told to come back on March 4, but was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance with crippling pain one day earlier. She was later pronounced dead.

Her husband, Abiola Adesina, who was with her at the time, claimed medical staff seemed to have downplayed the seriousness of her condition.

Adesina previously told The Voice: “I could see that something was wrong. The nurse who was there with me was telling me it’s no problem [and] that some people exaggerate.

SHOUTING

“I wanted to get out and maybe find someone else to come in and look at her, but Bimbo was holding my hand really tight. I was actually shouting until another person walked into the room, and that was the one who raised the alarm.”

Onanuga’s death prompted a hospital and Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation, which led to a series of hospital reforms, especially as it was reported that another pregnant woman had died at the Rotunda during the same period.

In its report, the HSE highlighted hospital failures such as insufficient training among some midwifery and nursing staff on the gynaecology ward. It also pointed out inadequate life support skills and poor management at the health facility.

TREATMENT

At the hospital, HSE also found out-of-date guidelines on the treatment of women ‘experiencing death of the foetus in the uterus’ and added that there was a lack of facilities for detecting warning signs such as changes in the patient’s blood pressure and temperature.

However, the report and its recommendations were only made public after pressure was applied by AIMS, which led to questions being asked in the Irish Parliament, The Dáil, by Socialist Party representative Clare Daly.

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