Inadequate care at a Queensland health service contributed to the deaths of three children in the past decade, an investigation into alleged malpractice has found.
Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’Ath on Friday handed down a report into Mackay Hospital and Health Service ordered last October following complaints from women about complications from caesareans and allegations of patient harm.
WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: The damning allegations against Mackay Base Hospital.
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The investigation team was tasked with identifying conduct within obstetrics and gynaecology services at the hospital between July 1, 2019 to November 1, 2021.
D’Ath said three cases were identified where inadequate care led to the loss of three children.
“Those three cases span over 10 years. No family should ever have to experience the devastation of the loss of a child and certainly not under these circumstances,” she said.
“To all the women and families who had been impacted by these failings, I offer my sincerest and unreserved apology.
“Our health system can and must do better.”
Ninety-six women participated in the investigation, with 84 cases included in the report and 12 still under review.
Women described being disrespected, neglected, left in pain or discharged back to GPs with incomplete resolution of their problems and no adequate follow-up.
The report said 26 cases fell below expected medical standards resulting in personal injury or harm.
The women have been advised of a compensation pathway, the minister said.
Investigations found multiple examples of substandard clinical care, poor clinical incident monitoring, poor management of safety and quality, complications and clinical deterioration and poor human resource management.
It found examples where the consequences for a number of women were life-altering, yet some were left with unanswered questions.
D’Ath noted some findings were of the incidence of particular injuries during obstetric and gynecology surgery, with 21 recorded in just over one year.
“The expected incidence of the Mackay Base Hospital sites would be zero to one per year,” she said.
“In 2021, the care provided was not evidence based.
“While structures and processes were put in place and were in place to promote safety and learn from incidents where things went wrong, the structures and processes were not always used appropriately.
“That system level failure enabled poor practice and unprofessional behaviours to flourish.”
Liberal National opposition health spokeswoman Ros Bates described the failures as catastrophic, and said D’Ath should “do the right thing today and resign”.
“We saw in the report that nurses and doctors were raising these alarming issues and that they were ignored,” Bates said.
“I don’t have faith in the Palaszczuk government to fix the Queensland health crisis and I certainly have no faith in Yvette D’Ath as the health minister.”
The minister has issued a show cause notice to the hospital and health board regarding how they may effectively discharge their duties and obligations and whether any or all board members should be dismissed.
The health service has until next Friday to respond.
A special advisor to the health service board has been appointed, tasked with providing independent oversight of the issues raised.
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