Friday, April 11, 2008


Horrendous hospital treatment

By Edith Bevin, dtm

April 11, 2008 12:00am

A MOTHER yesterday told of her harrowing ordeal of having been sent home from a major Sydney hospital with her dead unborn baby still inside her because of a lack of beds.

Zareen Nisha gave evidence at the Special Commission of Inquiry into Acute Care Services in NSW Public Hospitals yesterday, telling of the derelict treatment she received at Westmead Hospital.

Ms Nisha, who was seven months pregnant at the time, said despite her GP phoning ahead to the hospital to alert them that the baby had developed serious problems, staff had told her to take a number in the queue and made her wait almost 30 minutes before seeing her.

Tests performed at the Westmead-based University Clinic on April 17, last year showed the the unborn baby boy was dead - the umbilical cord had twice wrapped around its neck.

However, hospital staff sent her home because "there were no beds" to deliver the stillborn child.

The Merrylands resident returned to the hospital at 2am the following day - finally giving birth to the dead baby she named Aahil - about 8pm that night.

"The midwife told me he was a perfect angel," Ms Nisha said.

"There was no disability or anything - he died because the cord had coiled around his neck.

"Ultrasounds would have picked up that he was becoming tangled in the cord. But they only gave me one ultrasound."

Ms Nisha said she believed a lack of clinical care throughout her pregnancy had caused the death of her son.

The 36-year-old said her pregnancy should have been considered high risk from the start due to a history of pregnancy-induced diabetes and other well-documented reproductive complications.

She said when her GP told her she was pregnant in November 2006 it took 12 weeks to get an appointment at Westmead because the clinic had closed over Christmas.

Ms Nisha said because of her age she had wanted the baby tested for Down syndrome, however the clinic never carried out the tests. She finally paid to have tests done privately.

At 20 weeks, the hospital carried out its first - and only - ultrasound on her unborn baby. At 29 weeks the clinic told her it was dead.

"If they had seen it (the cord) was tangling they would have saved him - I believe if they had done more ultra sounds they would have seen that," Ms Nisha said. "I don't blame (the hospital) for my baby's death but I would like them to be more accountable."

Ms Nisha, whose first child Zoya, 9, was born in Fiji, said she had wrongly believed the health system would be better in Australia.

"The standard of care is higher in Fiji then it is here," she said.