Concerns raised about maternity and neonatal care in Vic hospitals

Concerns raised about maternity and neonatal care in Vic hospitals

The state government report "Victoria's Mothers, Babies and Children 2012 and 2013" which identified 'contributing factors' in the deaths of 281 infants and 11 mothers during 2008 and 2013 is unlikely to be reflective of the full scope of the problem. The 'contributing factors' identified in the report include obstetric factors (antenatal care, management and monitoring), infant factors (delay in recognition or delay in treatment) and paediatric factors (clinical management or resuscitation practice). The report further states there were 'contributing factors' found in respect of maternal deaths, including 11 deaths associated with sub-optimal professional care. These disturbing findings are indicative of hospitals and health services failing to provide adequate care to mothers and babies across the state. The list of 'hospitals of concern' when it comes to maternity and neonatal care, includes 16 regional and metropolitan hospitals:

  • Albury Wodonga
  • Geelong Hospital
  • Casey Hospital Berwick
  • Frankston Hospital
  • Northern Hospital Epping
  • Sunshine Hospital
  • Box Hill Hospital
  • Mildura Base Hospital
  • South West Healthcare Warrnambool
  • Echuca Regional Health
  • Swan Hill District Health
  • Bass Coast Regional Health
  • East Grampians Health Service Ararat
  • Kerang District Health Service
  • Colac Area Health
  • Yarrawonga District Health Service

Source: Victoria's Mothers, Babies and Children 2012 and 2013. The fact that the hospital's care contributed to the deaths of mothers and infants across Victoria is disturbing, however it is unlikely to represent the full extent of the problem. The sad reality is that not all cases of sub-optimal care will have resulted in the death of the mother or child; many more cases are likely to have resulted in permanent injuries to mothers and babies alike. Some of those injuries will have significant impacts on the mothers and babies for the rest of their lives. The deficiencies identified in the report, including inadequate use or misinterpretation of inadequate antenatal and intrapartum foetal monitoring (including inadequate use or misinterpretation of the CTG) inadequate management of the second stage of labour, including delayed intervention and inadequate paediatric management, including advanced neonatal resuscitation all can result in conditions such as hypoxic brain injury and cerebral palsy. These conditions have the potential to impact individuals for the rest of their lives. Similarly, failings in maternal care such as failure to recognise clinical deterioration and inadequate clinical monitoring will not always lead to maternal deaths, but can lead to permanent physical and psychiatric injuries. If you believe that a medical practitioner has breached their duty of care, you need expert advice about whether you can bring a claim against them for compensation. Redlich's Work Injury Lawyers can help on (03) 9321 9988.

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