"Late term miscarriage"

About: Fiona Stanley Hospital / Antenatal Clinic, Birth Suite, Maternal Fetal Assessment Unit, Obstetrics and Gynaecology Unit, Wards 3B, 3C, 3D, 3DO, Visiting Midwife Service, Fiona Stanley Hospital / Emergency Department

(as the patient),

Last year I went to Fiona Stanley Hospital Emergency Department experiencing symptoms of a miscarriage at 16 weeks gestation. It was the weekend and it was late at night when I arrived. I was told to wait to be seen as they had higher priorities ahead of me, but was called in about 30 minutes later after my symptoms and pain got to an extreme level and I told this to the staff at the counter. 

I was wheel chaired into the cubicle, which separated me from other patients with just basically a sheet. It was busy and I was in pain. 

The doctors and nurses attending to me were continually rushing back and forth from my room to other patients or paperwork or whatever it was they were doing. After being asked a question I was left for up to 20 minutes at a time, in visible pain. Despite me repeatedly saying that I was 16 weeks they did not offer me pain relief just in case the baby came out alive/miraculously at a later gestation. Something that was impossible as I had several scans, which I told them. 

During a speculum exam the attending doctor accidentally broke my waters and my baby then came rapidly.  I remember this bit most of all, as when my daughter was then born on the emergency room bed, I begged for someone to wrap her up or pick her up and pass her to me. Which they refused to do for over 10 minutes until my placenta eventually passed. Their replies being, it is very small and are you sure you want to see it. After the placenta and baby was passed the doctor who collected my child placed her into a kidney dish then on a table like she was a medical specimen and kept her from me for over another 10 minutes. I was only given a small amount of morphine for after pains by a nurse at this point. 

After finally being given my daughter, I was asked several times if they wanted me to take 'it' away as they send them and the placenta off for testing. I did not want to give up my child yet and was sent with her to a ward. I had no clothing with me as I had bled badly through my underwear and pants and had to ask for something to wear or even a pad and they seemed surprised I was even asking. I was given a pair of incontinence underwear to wear eventually. 

The lovely nurses in that ward took her out of the kidney dish and placed her in a wrap and on a cooler pack which I greatly appreciated. I stayed overnight and left in the morning after giving her to a nurse for her to be sent for testing at King Edward Hospital. 

The reason I'm telling my story is that that night was the worst in my life, and I feel it was made worse by the actions and comments of some members of staff. I feel like if I was given a room that was more private and not with staff rushing back and forward, leaving the flimsy curtain partially open when they entered and exited, I would have felt a lot more comfortable. If they had stopped referring to my baby as an 'it' repeatedly and continually and not placed her into a kidney dish with dirty gauze away from me then I feel like she may have had some dignity in her death. I wanted nothing more than to hold my baby and her being kept from me for even a few minutes was agonising, her being left to lie between my legs in a pool of water and blood for over 10 minutes was the worst feeling, my daughter had not died inside me prior to my labour, but died as she was delivered.

In my honest opinion I feel had she been treated like she was a baby and not just a miscarriage, I would have received proper pain relief, privacy, appropriate care for her after she was born and appropriate terms would have been used when addressing my child, instead of 'it'. I feel any parent and any woman deserves the best of care on a day like this as it is a day they will always remember and although small things might not seem like much at the time it makes a huge difference. 

I never got her weight or time she was born noted down or even checked by staff. This is information I wish I knew to this day.  


Response from Neil Doverty, Executive Director, Fiona Stanley Fremantle Hospitals Group, South Metropolitan Health Service

picture of Neil Doverty

Dear Amother,

I sincerely apologise for the experience you had at what would have been a very difficult and frightening time. The lack of understanding you described with regard to experiencing a miscarriage at 16 weeks of pregnancy is not acceptable. The expectation you had for a chance to hold your baby soon after delivery was entirely reasonable. The ED is made up of cubicles which are separated by curtains or closed rooms. The ideal location for your situation would have been in a more private patient location rather than a curtained cubicle. Without being able to investigate the specific details of your presentation and understanding what else was happening in the unit, it may have been the case that a space was created for you at short notice due to the severe pain you were experiencing. I apologise that your pain management was not adequately addressed.

I would like to strongly encourage you to make your details known to us so that we can further investigate the matter. Your story has a number of aspects that we have noted and shared with our staff, however a more detailed investigation would enable us to specifically pinpoint how we can improve our response and deliver more humanistic care in sad situations such as the one you experienced. Please call us on (08) 6152 4013 if you are open to sharing your experience with us.

Kind regards

Neil Doverty

Executive Director Fiona Stanley Fremantle Hospital’s Group

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