Nambour Hospital baby deaths inquiry

THE Queensland coroner is considering launching an investigation to determine if Nambour General Hospital played a role in the deaths of two babies.

One case centres on the advice the hospital gave a Sunshine Coast GP on how to treat a baby that subsequently died at home in March, 2008.

The other death occurred at the hospital in February, 2009 in the days following the baby’s birth.

Maurice Blackburn Lawyers’ medical negligence department at Maroochydore is handling both cases.

Sarah Atkinson, who heads up the department, said both cases warranted further investigation but declined to provide further details.

The parents of both babies live on the Sunshine Coast.

The Sunshine Coast Daily has also learned a woman giving birth at the hospital in March allegedly endured a caesarean section without adequate anaesthetic and suffered breathing problems as a result.

Brisbane-based Trilby Misso, the law firm handling that case, has blamed the incident and its “spiralling number” of medical negligence cases in Queensland on overworked, inexperienced and inadequately supervised doctors.

News of the incidents at Nambour comes as state parliament prepares to debate legislation that will make it compulsory for doctors to report colleagues to the Medical Board if they suspect them of negligence.

While Australian Medical Association Queensland’s Coolum-based president Dr Mason Stevenson insisted the legislation was “draconian” and wanted doctors who treated other doctors exempted from it, law firms that handle medical negligence cases said the legislation was long overdue.

The firms believe the current legislation makes it very difficult to prove doctor negligence because doctors are rarely prepared to testify against a colleague.

Trilby Misso’s principal lawyer, Luke Short, said his firm had taken more than 50 medical negligence cases in the past six months – with most involving public hospitals.

“The number of medical cases we have been receiving is quite alarming and raises grave concerns about the real state of Queensland’s health system,” he said.

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