Translation Could be Cause of Maternity Deaths in Ireland

May 24, 2013

By Ofer Tirosh


Recently, ten women who gave birth in Ireland but were not native to the area, died giving birth there. Lack of proper translation services has been cited as a possible cause for the deaths. 

A Maternal Death Enquiry showed that nearly 40% of all maternal deaths over the past three years occurred in women who were not from Ireland.  This report shined light on the importance of interpretation services for foreign women giving birth in Ireland.

Statistics on maternal care and death rates are collected by the World Health Organization. Even in light of this recent translation problem, Ireland remains the 13th lowest rate of maternal mortality on the list of 178 countries reporting data. 

“It is important to state that no matter what definitions are used or how case ascertainment is conducted, that Ireland continues to be a very safe country for a woman to give birth in and our safety record compares favourably with other developed countries,” the Minister for Health Dr James Reilly said.

Reilly also stated that it is fairly common for vital statistics to result in an underestimate of maternal death rate statistics due to pre-existing diseases and diseases that developed during pregnancy that may not be accounted for. 

To improve the standards for translation and maternal care, there have since been 20 guidelines enacted by HSE’s National Clinical Programme in Obstetrics and Gynaecology and another 20 are being commissioned. The mission is to resolve problems like this. 

To read the full story about the maternal death translation issue, go to the Irish Medical Times website.  

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