"Poor care at FMAC during pregnancy after repeated miscarriages"

About: Box Hill Hospital / Maternity Service

(as the patient),

Early this year I fell pregnant for the 5th time after 4 early losses (all before 7 weeks). I had been in the care of the doctor in charge of the recurrent miscarriage clinic and was told to make an appointment to see him at 5 weeks. I had also been given a pathology request for serum progesterone to take prior to the 1st appointment. The plan was that I would have an internal ultrasound each week until 8 weeks and then external ultrasounds weekly until 12 weeks. No further plan had been made.

I made the appointment and turned up, waiting about an hour, only to be told that because they didn't have an HCG test on record that they wouldn't do a scan. I was sent downstairs for an HCG test and told to come back next week. After following their instructions exactly, I was distressed at not being given a scan as planned.

I came back the following week and this time went in almost on time (the only time this happened). The quick 2 minute scan revealed a gestational sac but no fetal pole. I was told the pregnancy was not viable and to speak to one of the consulting gynecologists regarding a D&C. We refused and decided to come back the following week if nothing had happened in the meantime.

The following week we came back and waited more than 3 hours. We had been booked into the wrong section of maternity by the admin staff. Once we were taken to the right section we had to wait another 30 minutes or so. The quick 2 minute scan showed a baby measuring right on track and a beautiful heartbeat (the first time for us) - we were outraged that if we had followed their advice the previous week our baby wouldn't be there. I rang Eastern Health and asked to be transferred to Angliss but was told that this doctor was the only one in the network who provided a recurrent miscarriage clinic.

The following week we waited about an hour, only to be told after a quick scan that there was little fluid around the baby and I should probably prepare for the worst but bed rest for the week was the only possible course. A small clot near baby was also identified, I was told it would resolve itself.

The last appointment was by far the worst. When I arrived, we waited about an hour before someone came and asked why we were there. I explained and they left. About half an hour later I was taken through to monitoring and put in a chair. As the midwife went to fit the monitor I told her I was only 8 weeks, she disappeared, only to come back and tell me to go out to the waiting room again. After another 30 minutes, someone else came to ask me why I was there, I explained again. She went back in and then went to the admin desk to ask them why I was there!

More than 3 hours had passed by this point (never mind my bladder was almost bursting! ) and the doctor noticed we were still there, so he took us in himself. There was another lady already on the bed, so he told her to move (can't have been good for her! ) and he tried an external scan. I was told it was too difficult to see anything, so we would try an internal scan. First he couldn't find the probe, then he couldn't find a sheath - so just used a rubber glove! Then after inserting the probe decided that I should go empty my bladder. So I was sent out into the room half dressed. I came back in, the scan continued and we were told that he couldn't find a heartbeat. He didn't say there wasn't one, he said there was something but that it was closer to my heartbeat. Your baby is gone, someone will talk to you about options. And we were sent back out into the waiting room.

This was awful. Being surrounded by pregnant women and thinking that our baby had died. It must have been distressing for them as well to see us in that state. We were then called in to speak with a consulting gynecologist about options, they pushed the D&C once again. We had decided that we needed a private scan to confirm, we just couldn't trust them after our previous experience. I was told to come back the following week if I hadn't miscarried naturally to discuss.

Although the private scan confirmed our loss, that our baby had probably died the day of the scan last week, it was the most positive and supportive of all our scans to that point. The tech took her time, explained what she was looking for and what she was seeing, and even gave us a picture of our baby, if we wanted it.

Overall, the lack of organisation and communication between FMAC and maternity admin, between the admin and the specialist was unacceptable. The rough and rushed way in which we were treated, after all our waiting, was unprofessional. The uncaring way we were made to sit with expecting mothers after being told of our loss was heartless.

Although I am still at high risk of recurrent miscarriage and am currently pregnant again, I refuse to go back to Box Hill maternity or let that doctor have any involvement with this or any future pregnancy.

Responses

Response from Jo Gatehouse, Director, Quality, Planning and Innovation (Acute Health and Consumer Participation and Patient Experience), Eastern Health

picture of Jo Gatehouse

Dear Mother of angels,

Thank you for sharing your story on Patient Opinion and alerting us to your experience. I am really sorry for the aspects of our care that have only added to your distress during an already emotional time for you and your partner.

I have discussed your experience with the Director of our Women and Children’s Program, Paul Leyden and he was equally concerned and would welcome the opportunity to discuss your experience in greater detail.

We would like to follow this up directly with the staff involved in your care so that we can understand what occurred here and importantly, ensure that we prevent a recurrence. If you would be agreeable to this, please email me at jo.gatehouse@easternhealth.org.au and we will look into this as a matter of priority.

However, if you wish to remain anonymous, I completely understand and respect that decision. If this is the case we will have general discussions with the program staff about your experience.

In the interim,

I hope to hear from you soon and thank you again for sharing your story so that we may continually improve the care and service we provide.

I wish you all the very best with your current pregnancy.

Kind Regards,

Jo Gatehouse

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