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Unlicensed Implants Used in Spina Bifida Related Surgeries

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Children's Health Ireland at Temple Street, Dublin

Children’s Health Ireland at Temple Street (CHI) is currently dealing with some very serious allegations in relation to surgeries on children with spina bifida. In an extensive report, published here on The Ditch, the hospital is accused of implanting unlicensed devices made with non-medical parts in child patients. In two of these surgeries, the implants had to be removed after causing significant harm.

Certain spina bifida-related surgeries have been suspended at the hospital for almost a year following concerns raised by a senior member of hospital staff over the number of repeat operations on child patients, and the associated rate of infections. The hospital launched an internal review of operations in October 2022 with a later external probe by US-based clinicians.

The Irish Times reports today that the HSE has commissioned a UK-based expert to review all spinal surgeries carried out by the surgeon in question. The HSE said in a statement:

“The primary focus of this external review will be the clinical care provided by an individual consultant based at CHI at Temple Street, who is currently not conducting surgeries, and in respect of whom a referral has been made to the Medical Council.”

Reviews carried out examining care given to many children

An internal review by the CHI, and another review by experts at Boston Children’s Hospital, examined care provided to 17 children following poor outcomes from complex spinal surgery. Sadly, in one of the cases examined, a child died following surgery, whilst in several other cases children suffered “significant post-operative complications”.

According to HSE’s statement, CHI “deeply regrets the failings in the care provided to them. CHI is engaged with these families on an ongoing basis and will continue to provide support needed.”

The issue with the use of unlicensed devices came to light following concerns over the poor outcomes from spinal surgery, bringing a total of 19 cases that have been dealt with by the CHI in recent weeks. It’s anticipated that further cases are likely to emerge, given that in June of this year there were 287 children on waiting lists in Ireland for life-changing spinal surgery and many more that had undergone surgeries prior to 2023.

Has your child suffered due a poor outcome in spinal surgery?

If you are the parent of a child who has been treated at Children’s Health Ireland at Temple Street, you are likely to have many concerns and questions regarding your child’s legal rights. If you believe an unlicensed implant may have been used in your child’s surgery, or failings of care occurred during their time in hospital, we’d encourage you to contact our medical negligence team to discuss your case and the steps we can take to assist you.

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is a seasoned solicitor with almost 20 years of experience, specialises in personal injury and medical negligence claims, focusing particularly on high-value compensation cases. His extensive litigation experience spans Circuit Court, High Court and Supreme Court levels. John's practice involves a diverse range of cases, from personal injury and wrongful death to property damage, defective products, professional negligence and judicial reviews.

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