Bacchus Marsh Hospital perinatal deaths and injuries

In October 2015, the Victorian Health Minister announced that the board of the Djerriwarrh Health Service at Bacchus Marsh had been sacked after an unusually high number of perinatal deaths had been detected at the hospital between 2013-14.

The government ordered a review of the hospital’s obstetric services, which was conducted by well-respected obstetrician Professor Euan Wallace. The review found that seven of the 11 perinatal deaths that occurred during the two-year period may have been avoidable. Professor Wallace attributed these outcomes to poor prenatal care and the overall conduct of the hospital’s obstetric services.

The review has also been expanded to examine perinatal deaths at the hospital dating back to 2001, when recording of perinatal deaths began. This uncovered seven more baby deaths, bringing the total number of deaths at the hospital’s maternity unit to 18.

Maurice Blackburn’s medical negligence practice has received multiple enquiries in relation to deaths and injuries to babies born at the hospital and we are representing many of the affected families.

Australia’s health regulator, the Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency (AHPRA), has launched an investigation into doctors and midwives at the hospital.

The Department of Health and Human Services also published a more detailed summary of Actions undertaken to improve the safety of maternal services at the hospital.

In February 2016, Health Minister Jill Hennessy created the role of chief medical officer to develop ways to strengthen hospital management and systems to ensure that high-quality care is delivered by doctors and nurses.

A panel was also established to bolster hospital safety, headed by Stephen Duckett, director of the Grattan Institute’s health program. He describes the events at Bacchus Marsh as an “unmistakable wake-up call for the Victorian health system”. A discussion paper and the panel’s Terms of reference have also been released. 

Should you have any enquiries about Bacchus Marsh, please contact Maurice Blackburn.