A Doctor who admitted that he had misread the chart of a pregnant woman with suspected swine flu apologised during an inquest in Preston.
Sean Hughes, a consultant obstetrician at Royal Preston Hospital, said he could not explain why he had failed to note two unexplained falls in her baby’s heart rate.
The unborn baby girl died the following day, in December 2010, and the mother, Julie Ellison, 31, from Northway, Broughton, hours later.
Mr Hughes said: “Why didn’t I spot it? I don’t know. I can only apologise.”
The inquest heard that the chart showed two signs that might be cause for concern - a high foetal heart rate, and a number of incidences where it fell without reason.
But because Ms Ellison, a purchasing engineer, was being tested for swine flu she was not on the ante-natal ward, despite being 38 weeks pregnant.
She had been admitted to the hospital two days earlier with a variety of flu-like symptoms.
Hannah Cahill, a midwife at the hospital, said she took the chart to the ante-natal ward to be assessed by senior staff because she was concerned about the results.
But it was between four and five hours before Mr Hughes, who was in theatre all afternoon, was able to see Ms Ellison.
He said: “I expected to see someone who was more ill, but she was eating and drinking a sitting up in bed.
“We didn’t know then whether or not she would test positive for swine flu, which can have a disproportionate effect on pregnant women.
He said that because she seemed to be getting better he was optimistic and would have allowed her to go home the next day if she had no respiratory problems.
However, he said that when he saw the family the following day, by which time the baby had died, he told them that it may have survived had Ms Ellison been induced.
He said: “I should have asked for another scan, which might have helped us decide to move her to the labour ward.”
Earlier the inquest heard that the cause of Ms Ellison’s death was likely to have been septicaemia, but the source of the infection was not found.
They were unable to say whether the rare muscle condition she suffered from had played any role in her death. (proceeding)