Maurice Blackburn welcomes panel to investigate Bacchus Marsh hospital
25 February 2016
Maurice Blackburn has welcomed the state government’s decision to set up a panel to bolster hospital safety and in the wake of multiple perinatal deaths and injuries at Bacchus Marsh hospital.
Health Minister Jill Hennessy has announced the panel, to be chaired by Dr Stephen Duckett, the director of health programs at the Grattan Institute, will consult with experts in hospital safety and prepare a report to government later this year about areas in need of improvement.
Maurice Blackburn medical negligence Principal Dimitra Dubrow said the move was “a positive step towards ensuring the tragedies that have occurred at this hospital will never happen again”.
“The catastrophic failures at Bacchus Marsh have devastated too many families who put their faith and trust in the hospital and its obstetric care,” she said.
“There were clearly broader systemic issues at the hospital that contributed to the adverse obstetric outcomes and these contributing factors need to be comprehensively investigated and understood so there can be proper accountability. Only then can the necessary changes be made to ensure what happened at Djerriwarrh Health is never repeated.”
She added this was necessary to not only restore the local community’s confidence in the hospital, but also to give the wider community confidence in obstetric services across Victoria.
Maurice Blackburn has received more than 50 inquiries in relation to Bacchus Marsh perinatal deaths and injuries spanning three decades. The firm is currently investigating up to 20 cases of babies who have died or been injured, or mothers who have been injured at Djerriwarrh Health Services’ maternity department.
The firm has so far settled three cases after the minister called for a pragmatic approach to be adopted in relation to settlements. The Victorian Managed Insurance Authority (VMIA), which insures public hospitals, made proposals for early resolution to families whose baby’s deaths in 2013-14 had been found by eminent obstetrician Professor Euan Wallace to be avoidable.
The Minister has since asked Professor Wallace to review and examine stillbirths and neonatal deaths at the hospital between 2001 and 2012. Maurice Blackburn has called for the review to be expanded even further to include injuries to babies born at the hospital (such as cerebral palsy), and injuries sustained by women while giving birth at the hospital during this time, as well.