RTÉ Investigates has learned that the Health Service Executive is to review safety concerns relating to certain foetal monitors being used in several Irish maternity hospitals.
The HSE has established a Risk Assessment Team to identify any past or current safety concerns following a product recall of the monitors in 2009.
It follows concerns raised about the potential impact of the recall on the deaths of a number of babies at the Midland Regional Hospital, Portlaoise.
In 2009, Philips, the manufacturers of Avalon Foetal Monitors, issued a device recall due to the receipt of a high volume of complaints that certain models of the machine were taking inaccurate readings.
The company warned that if hospitals did not put corrective action in place there was potential to cause injury or death to mothers and babies.
The recall was sent to 11 Irish hospitals, including the Midland Regional Hospital, Portlaoise, which featured as part of an RTÉ investigation in 2014 concerning the deaths of five babies.
In all five cases there were issues with the interpretation of foetal traces.
Now the HSE has formed a committee to establish if appropriate action was taken in response to the 2009 recall and if any safety concerns exist for mothers attending hospitals where particular models of the foetal monitors are still in use.
The six-member team is expected to produce a report when it concludes its work, a timeframe for which is not yet known.
An obstetrician who reviewed the death of one of the babies at Portlaoise has said that approximately an hour and a half before the birth of the baby, the heartbeat tracing went from recording that of the baby to that of the mother.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Six One News, Professor Jim Dornan said this happened almost seamlessly.
Mr Dornan said he wrote the above detail in his report and has not had a response from the HSE, saying this has surprised him.
He said he was pleased to hear there was a recall notice and that the HSE is carrying out a review.
Prof Dornan added that he does not believe women having babies in the 11 hospitals should have any concerns, saying they are in great hands.