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Family wants answers after death of baby boy during birth at Latrobe Regional Hospital

ABC NEWS logo ABC NEWS 1/06/2020 Kellie Lazzaro

a close up of a hand: The parents of a baby boy who died during childbirth last year are seeking answers from the coroner. ( Andreas Wohlfahrt, file photo) © Provided by ABC Health The parents of a baby boy who died during childbirth last year are seeking answers from the coroner. ( Andreas Wohlfahrt, file photo) The Victorian coroner is investigating the death of a baby boy during a birth at Latrobe Regional Hospital in the state's east.

The boy died of suspected head injuries in March 2019.

An internal review of the baby's death led to an immediate overhaul of some of the hospital's obstetric ward procedures.

And an independent review by the Victorian Government health watchdog agency, Safer Care Victoria (SCV) also exposed flaws in the hospital's obstetric unit procedures.

"I know the loss of the baby has caused immense distress to his parents," hospital chief executive Peter Craighead said.

Mr Craighead said the baby's death had also deeply affected the hospital's obstetric and maternity staff.

"Latrobe Regional Hospital is yet to receive the final report, however I have been in regular contact with SCV to ensure our hospital meets the competency and standard required of a level 5 maternity service," Mr Craighead said.

Obstetrics overhaul

Almost 900 babies are born at the hospital in Traralgon each year.

The baby boy's death in March last year identified the hospital should better communicate with parents about the risks associated with complex births and better educate staff and parents about the use of birthing instruments such as forceps.

It also led to more monitoring equipment being installed and used in birthing suites.

"We have also looked closely at the level of experience in our obstetrics team and the capacity of staff to manage challenging and complex births [and] I can assure the community our team is suitably qualified and credentialed," Mr Craighead said.

Last December, a coronial medical examiner's report made initial findings about the boy's death.

The boy's parents are eagerly awaiting the findings of the full coronial investigation.

Victorian Opposition health spokeswoman Georgie Crozier said all procedures relating to the baby's death needed to be examined.

"This may never have come to light if these parents hadn't pushed for the coroner, for more questions to be asked," Ms Crozier said.

"Tragedies do occur, but this one is a very tragic incident and I think those questions do need to be answered by Government to ensure we do have the appropriate resources in place to manage complex deliveries such as this one seems to have been.

"If there are any changes that need to be made in relation to that part of our health system or that health service then of course everybody involved stands ready," Premier Daniel Andrews said.

Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said changes were needed at Latrobe Regional Hospital to improve the safety of obstetric patients.

"Safer Care Victoria and the Department of Health are working closely with Latrobe Regional Hospital to ensure any lessons that need to be learned from the tragedy are brought to light and acted on in full," Ms Mikakos said.

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