Portuguese Medical Association opens inquiry into the case of the pregnant woman who died at São Francisco Xavier Hospital


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The Portuguese Medical Association has opened an inquiry into the death of a pregnant woman who was transferred to São Francisco Xavier Hospital in order to make “a very thorough and serious assessment of what happened,” its chairman told Lusa today.

“The Portuguese Medical Association, as soon as it became aware that doctors were implicated, did what is its function in regulating the medical profession, which is to inform the Disciplinary Council of the situation and ask the Disciplinary Council to make a due evaluation of the case, taking into account the report that IGAS [Inspection General of Health Activities] announced very recently,” said the President of the Portuguese Medical Association, Carlos Cortes.

He explained that “whenever there are doctors involved” and “evidence of malpractice”, as stated in the IGAS report, the Portuguese Medical Association is obliged “to make its own assessment”, namely technical, scientific and, above all, disciplinary, to understand if there are deontological aspects that were not respected, since a number of doctors are involved in the process.

In this sense, the process was referred to the Disciplinary Council, which is the competent body of the Order of Physicians, to make “a very thorough and serious assessment of what happened.

On June 8, TVI reported that the report “points to three fatal errors” in the assistance provided at Santa Maria Hospital to the woman, who died after being transferred to São Francisco Xavier Hospital.

The report points out errors to Santa Maria Hospital, saying that the Directorate-General of Health’s guidance of July 2022 on the monitoring of pregnant women during inter-hospital transfer was not followed, and states that when the 30-week pregnant woman was admitted to Santa Maria Hospital’s gynecological and obstetric emergency department on August 23, the University Hospital Center of Northern Lisbon (CHULN) had not yet updated its regulations in light of the new guidance from health authorities.

IGAS also says that transportation would not have to be considered because, after all, there was a bed for the newborn at Santa Maria.

The Ministry of Health and the Santa Maria Hospital confirmed on June 9 that they had received a report from the General Inspection of Health Activities.

“As the report of the General Inspection of Health Activities (IGAS) has been sent to the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the University Hospital Center of Northern Lisbon will respect the legal procedures and will not comment at this stage on its conclusions, which, as expressed in the document, were subject to due contradiction within the time limits provided for in the process,” said the CHULN in a statement.

The case dates back to the end of August 2022, when the pregnant woman, during the transfer trip between hospitals, suffered a cardiorespiratory arrest, and resuscitation work was performed on the transport.

According to a CHULN statement released at the time, at São Francisco Xavier Hospital the pregnant woman “underwent an urgent cesarean section” and the newborn went to the neonatal intensive care unit, while the mother “remained in intensive care and died.

This case led to the resignation of the former Minister of Health, Marta Temido, who justified her departure with “the circumstance that an episode had occurred which, although not directly related to the performance of NHS care, was an episode of such gravity that it was necessary that there was accountability.

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