Slater and Gordon is investigating the legal options of a number of families affected by the deaths of babies at the Bacchus Marsh and Melton Regional Hospital, after a review by the Victorian Health Department found a series of "key failings" in their care.
Slater and Gordon Medical Lawyer Anne Shortall said emerging reports about the avoidable nature of some of the infants’ deaths may give rise to claims for compensation.
“This is an incredibly distressing time for families who are dealing with the painful loss of a child,” Ms Shortall said.
“We have been approached by at least two families in this situation, who are understandably devastated to learn that a series of systematic failures could be to blame for their loss.
“We welcome the Victorian Health Minister’s pledge to provide full support to the affected families and we will be fully investigating any potential claims for compensation.
Ms Shortall said it is now crucial that the relevant authorities are allowed to fully scrutinise the situation, to stop history repeating itself.
“In Victoria, the Coroner does not have jurisdiction to investigate stillbirths, so only some of the infant deaths at Bacchus Marsh have been referred for coronial investigation at this stage,” Ms Shortall said.
“It is impossible to know whether the ability to refer stillbirths to the Coroner could have raised the alarm earlier, but even belated referral would be beneficial in this instance.
“Allowing the Coroner to fully investigate all of the infant deaths, including stillbirths, will ensure proper scrutiny of the processes at Bacchus Marsh and help identify the failures.
“Changes to the laws that limit the Coroner’s jurisdiction regarding stillbirths could allow for special exemptions in situations like this.”
Ms Shortall said it is also important to identify every child affected by this situation.
“Where key failings have caused the avoidable deaths of babies, there is also the potential for life-changing complications for other children who survived,” Ms Shortall said.
“My concern is that this is only the tip of the iceberg and I urge anyone who thinks they may have been affected to come forward to help ensure this does not happen again.