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Baby born healthy after hospital
advised abortion
By Joanne Dodgson, ABC News website: www.abc.net.au
posted Wed Feb 17, 2010
A trainee doctor told Ms Vanderhook she had lost the baby when
she was five weeks pregnant.
The ABC has learned that Canberra Hospital recommended a lateterm abortion for a baby who was later born healthy.
The incident has come to light after nine obstetricians left the hospital during the past 13 months amid claims of
bullying by senior staff and a hostile working environment.
There are now fears that Canberra's biggest hospital will not be able to staff its new maternity unit because some
experienced obstetricians are not prepared to work there.
Fiona Vanderhook came close to never knowing her 14-month-old son Diesel. When she was five weeks pregnant, a
trainee doctor told Ms Vanderhook she had lost the baby.
The doctor recommended termination using the drug misoprostol, but the drug did not work and a follow-up scan
showed the foetus was still alive. Later scans revealed the baby had fluid on the brain - a condition likely caused by
the abortion drug Ms Vanderhook had been given.
Despite six other specialist opinions that the baby would be born normal, Ms Vanderhook says a senior obstetrician at
Canberra Hospital continued to press her to terminate the baby, even at 31 weeks, when termination would have
involved inducing labour.
"To have a baby induced and to watch him just die and not do anything about it? I was disgusted," Ms Vanderhook
told the ABC.
The Vanderhook's barrister, Bernard Collaery, believes there is a simple explanation why the hospital was urging her
to terminate the pregnancy.
"Away would go the litigation that might in the event of serious deformities produce a multi-million dollar verdict," he
said.
Ms Vanderhook applied for her clinical notes from the hospital with a view to legal action.
But when she received them, crucial information including the repeated recommendations for a termination were
missing.
Mr Collaery says the hospital has a culture of covering up mistakes.
"There's another secret Z file as it were, in the health system in the ACT where for legal reasons there documents
cannot be secured by patients themselves," he said.
ACT Health acting chief executive Peggy Brown vigorously denies. "We've actually won a national award around our
risk reporting and our culture is of very robust reporting around incidents," she said.
"We have incidents, we have a process of reviewing them looking for improvements that can be made so I would
reject any sort of culture that says we cover-up."
(extract for full article refer: www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/02/16/2821599.htm )
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