Perth mother Mii Teuru-Bates was left blind when Perth’s Rockingham General Hospital failed to identify an infection caused when part of the placenta remained after the birth of her 10th child.
A day after the March 6, 2013 birth of baby Ritia, mother and child were sent home believing all had gone well. But after 10 days, Mrs Teuru-Bates was rushed – by ambulance – back to the hospital after suffering severe hip pain, was unable to walk and had a fever.
“Everybody at home thought I looked really really sick,” Mrs Teuru-Bates said. “But I had no idea what was wrong.”
The mother of 10 was given a tentative diagnosis of sciatica (back pain) and was again sent home with medication and a walking frame the following day.
On March 22, she again returned to the hospital suffering loss of vision, increased pain, shortness of breath, yellowness in her eyes and a red rash. She was then transferred to Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital where doctors found that part of the placenta had been left inside her from the birth more than two weeks earlier.
By this stage she was suffering septicaemia – infection in the blood – leading to Mrs Teuru-Bates permanently losing vision in both eyes.
“The most heartbreaking part for me is only being able to see my daughter’s face for those few days after the birth,” she said. “She’s now four years old but the only images I have of her are as a baby in my arms.”
The now 36-year-old also suffered from acute renal and liver failure, an infected thigh abscess, pulmonary hypertension and septic arthritis to her ankle, knee and shoulder.
“I never expected anything like this would happen, I still can’t believe it,” Mrs Teuru-Bates said. “My kids are praying every night that I might be able to see them again one day.
“I try every day to do my best to keep strong but my life is now hopeless.”
Husband Turoa and the children now shoulder many of the chores around the house to ensure tasks such as cooking, cleaning, shopping and caring for Mrs Teuru-Bates are done.
Slater and Gordon Lawyer Karina Hafford said the hospital had clearly contributed to Mrs Teuru-Bates’ condition when it failed to diagnose the sepsis. Ms Hafford said a retained placenta was not an unusual occurrence; and when a patient attends a hospital with severe hip pain and a fever shortly after giving birth, investigations to determine the cause of the infection should be a standard part of care.
“Mii feels alone, frustrated and angry,” Ms Hafford said. “The hospital has failed her; it clearly should have identified the infection on her return to the hospital.”
“Her quality of life has been taken away because of a clear mistake made by the medical staff that she has every right to trust with her and her child’s wellbeing.”