Apr 30, 2023

Traumatic miscarriage case triggers hospital review

Allegations by a woman who says she was traumatised by her treatment after a miscarriage have sparked a review at a major Queensland hospital.

Nikkole Southwell, who was 12 weeks pregnant when she lost her child in April, told The Courier-Mail paramedics placed the fetus into a biohazard bag on the way to Ipswich Hospital.

The Fernvale woman said she had to sit in the hospital waiting room holding the bag with sheets around her waist.

Health Minister Shannon Fentiman has intervened and ordered a review.

"This is a heartbreaking situation and I want to extend my deepest sympathies to Ms Southwell and her family," Fentiman said.

"There is a review under way, and I look forward to receiving all recommendations from the review".

Southwell said she was also treated on a hospital bed smeared with another patient's blood.

She alleged hospital staff used her partner's phone torch rather than the appropriate medical equipment during an examination before she was discharged.

"I lost my baby and my dignity was taken," she told The Courier-Mail.

"I felt like my baby meant nothing while it sat in the top of my handbag in a biohazard bag for all to see".

Fentiman, who was only recently given the health portfolio after a cabinet reshuffle, said women's health was one of her top priorities.

"I want to ensure that women right across Queensland have access to appropriate and compassionate care," she said.

Liberal National health spokesperson Ros Bates described Southwell's treatment as harrowing while at the same time defending the hospital's "poor doctors and nurses".

"Any family to go through the loss of a child in such circumstances is shocking," Bates said.

"Those poor doctors and nurses at Ipswich Hospital which has been under-resourced for years. That ED ... that looks like a war zone - it needed to be upgraded years ago".

"Certainly, there has to be an analysis of what happened. There will be a root cause analysis done, and the hospital will conduct an investigation as to whether or not they need to change their processes to ensure that that doesn't happen again".

West Moreton Health chief executive Hannah Bloch said senior clinicians would lead an internal review expected to take at least 30 days.

"We are truly sorry to hear of Nicole's experience with our service here at Ipswich Hospital's emergency department," she said.

"It is taken extremely seriously and we offer our apologies for the experience that Nicole has had within our service.

"Compassionate care is something that we strive to achieve and to hear on this occasion that has not been Southwell's experience is very upsetting".

Review recommendations are expected to be released publicly when the investigation has concluded.