August 14, 2008

Doctor May Face Charges for Death; Commissioner Scathing

By MORGAN, Jared

TIMELINE Ella Irihapti McMillan-Meager was delivered at Southland Hospital on June 10, 2006.

She died two days later in Dunedin Hospital.

October 2007: Coroner Trevor Savage rules excessive force used in the delivery was a contributing factor in baby Ella's death.

August 2008: Health and Disability Commissioner Ron Paterson's opinion was Dr Tomeu did not provide an appropriate and acceptable standard of care and that his failure to do so was major.

It is understood Dr Tomeu returned to the United States in 2006. A FORMER Southland Hospital obstetrician and gynaecologist could face disciplinary charges following a damning report released yesterday.

Health and Disability Commissioner Ron Paterson released his report into the treatment of Felicity McMillan and her baby Ella Irihapti McMillan-Meager at Southland Hospital on June 10, 2006.

Mr Paterson says former Southland Hospital obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr B, whom The Southland Times has identified as Enrique Tomeu, breached guidelines in the treatment of Mrs McMillan and baby Ella, who died on June 12, 2006.

The report says Dr Tomeu not only failed to provide adequate care but also attempted to cover up his actions in the aftermath.

Mrs McMillan said last night she was glad the commissioner had found Dr Tomeu had breached the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumer's Rights but wondered what, if any, action could be taken next.

"What are they going to do about it? I would like them to pursue him and bring him back to New Zealand." She also believed the Southland District Health Board, which was found not to have breached the code, got off lightly. "They (the board) knew he was up on malpractice in the States but still employed him." She and husband Nathan Meager had never stopped grieving for Ella and yesterday's report made it like she "never existed" .

Ella's death had destroyed her family and the couple had left Southland as a result, she said.

Mr Paterson says Mrs McMillan's labour was induced by a midwife who called on the assistance of an obstetric registrar, who made two attempts to perform a venthouse-assisted, or vacuum extraction, delivery. The registrar then called on-call consultant Dr Tomeu.

Dr Tomeu initially made preparations to perform a caesarian section but then decided to try another venthouse-assisted delivery. He successfully delivered the baby's head and then passed responsibility for the delivery back to the midwife.

The midwife found Ella's umbilical cord to be around her neck.

According to the midwife, Dr Tomeu intervened manually, lifting the umbilical cord over the baby's head, causing avulsion (tearing) of the cord at the navel.

Dr Tomeu said it was Mrs McMillan's next push that caused the cord to tear, the report says.

Following blood loss, baby Ella received paediatric care in the hospital's neonatal unit and clinicians also suspected subgaleal haemorrhage or bleeding into the space between the skull and scalp.

The following day she was transferred by helicopter to Dunedin Hospital but died on June 12.

Mr Paterson recommended Dr Tomeu be referred to the Director of Proceedings to determine if disciplinary charges should be considered.

[email protected] Death `preventable', Page 3

(c) 2008 Southland Times, The. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.