Mackay Base Hospital: Inadequate care led to the deaths of three babies, finds reported

Inadequate care at a Queensland health service has contributed to the deaths of three children in the past decade, an inquest into alleged wrongdoing has found.

Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’Ath on Friday delivered a report to Mackay Hospital and the Health Service ordered last October after women had complaints of complications from caesarean sections and allegations of patient harm.

WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: The damning allegations against Mackay Base Hospital.

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The investigative team was tasked with identifying behavior within the hospital’s obstetric and gynecological services between July 1, 2019 and November 1, 2021.

D’Ath said three cases have been identified where inadequate care resulted in the loss of three children.

“These three cases span 10 years. No family should ever have to experience the devastation of losing a child, and certainly not under these circumstances,” she said.

“To all the women and families affected by these mistakes, I offer my sincere and unreserved apologies.

“Our healthcare system can and must do better.”

96 women took part in the investigation, with 84 cases included in the report and 12 still under investigation.

Women described being disrespected, neglected, left in pain, or discharged to GPs with incomplete resolution of their problems and without adequate follow-up care.

According to the report, 26 cases fell below expected medical standards, resulting in injury or harm to people.

The women were informed of a way of compensation, said the minister.

Research found several examples of substandard clinical care, poor clinical incident monitoring, poor safety and quality management, complications and clinical deterioration, and poor staff management.

Queensland Health Secretary Yvette D’Ath has delivered a report to Queensland’s Mackay Hospital and Health Service. Recognition: 7NEWS

Examples were found where the consequences were life-changing for a number of women, but left unanswered questions for some.

D’Ath noted that some findings concerned the occurrence of certain injuries during obstetric and gynecologic surgeries, with 21 recorded in just over a 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.

“Although structures and processes were put in place and in place to promote safety and learn from incidents where things went wrong, the structures and processes were not always used appropriately.

“This system-level failure has allowed bad practices and unprofessional behavior to flourish.”

Yvette D’Ath says Queensland’s healthcare system can and must improve. Recognition: Darren England/AAP

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 addressed and ignored these alarming issues,” Bates said.

“I have no faith in the Palaszczuk government to resolve Queensland’s health crisis and I certainly have no faith in Yvette D’Ath as Secretary of Health.”

The minister has submitted a notice of cause to the Hospitals and Health Committee on how to effectively carry out their duties and responsibilities and whether some or all board members should be fired.

The health department has to respond by next Friday.

A special adviser to the Health Department has been appointed with the task of independently overseeing the issues raised.

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James Brien

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