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Investigation into Stillbirths and Neonatal Deaths at Bacchus Marsh hospital

Stillbirth And Neonatal Deaths

We’ve been following with dismay, the aftermath of the catastrophic events which took place at the Djerriwarrh Health Service in Bacchus Marsh, Victoria.

As you may remember, Professor Euan Wallace, Director of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Services at Monash Health, undertook a review of the 10 stillbirths and newborn deaths at the Bacchus Marsh hospital in 2013 and 2014 and found that seven may have been avoidable. The review by Professor Euan Wallace found the hospital’s peri-natal mortality rate was significantly higher than the state average and much higher than expected for a “low risk” unit. It identified misuse or misinterpretation of foetal heart rate monitors by “inadequately skilled” staff and a lack of “high quality staff education” as key problems.

The Health Minister subsequently replaced the Board members of the Djerriwarrh Health Service and created new positions for a Director of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and a Consultant Director of Medical Services. Additional funding and resources were directed towards immediate education and training of local staff as well as oversight from experienced senior midwives from the Melbourne Royal Women’s’ Hospital. Full details of the action taken in the wake of the disaster are found in the links below.

On Friday, the ABC published an article which focuses on the families of babies who suffered permanent, debilitating injuries during birth and who appear to have been overlooked in the investigation sparked by the Wallace Report. Yesterday evening, The Age published an interview with the former Director of Obstetrics at the hospital who had previously been singled out by the media.  Dr Parhar was investigated by the AHPRA on behalf of the Victorian Board of the Medical Board of Australia in relation to a single event.  No wider concerns were raised and Dr Parhar is no longer registered to practice.

Here at Catherine Henry Lawyers, we have acted in some of the most grave cases of stillbirth and neonatal deaths as well as for the families of those children who have suffered traumatic injury as a result of negligence during labour and birth. In some cases, we have secured multi million dollar settlements to cover the long term care needs of those children involved.

Click to view our Information Sheet on Stillbirth or Neonatal Deaths

Further information on the Bacchus Marsh tragedy can be found below:

* Initial report from the ABC about the events at Bacchus Marsh

* Steps taken to investigate the health practitioners involved in the Bacchus Marsh Deaths by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA),the regulatory body in Victoria.

* AHPRA’s call for more reporting to improve public safety

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