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Miscarrying woman turned away from Monash Medical Centre

Posted by: Ellen Feely | 25 October, 2012 - 9:58 AM
Woman turned away from Monash Medical Centre while in the process of miscarriage. (Photo: Wayne Hawkins)

A woman in the process of a miscarriage who was turned away from Monash Medical Centre because they didn’t have the staff to help her, is being hassled to pay a $400 medical bill for assistance she never received.

On Saturday 25th February this year, Weronika Morehouse attended the Monash Medical Centre emergency department after experiencing pain and bleeding eight weeks into her pregnancy.

When she was seen to by an medical staff member at the hospital, Ms Morehouse said she was told: ”You have to come back on Monday, I can't even do (an) ultrasound because there's not enough staff on the weekend."

Ms Morehouse, who at the time was on a tourist visa, told Neil Mitchell that she couldn’t believe what she was being told. She wasn’t given any painkillers and returned home only to miscarry a few hours later.

"When you're bleeding and when you're in pain, you can't wait for a couple of days for results and help," she said.

Ms Morehouse said she keeps receiving phone calls asking her to pay the $400 medical bill.

"I don't know what to do because I believe I didn't receive any help,” she said.

Once her condition had improved, Ms Morehouse said she sent the hospital an email to complain.

"They sent me a letter back saying they apologised (for) what happened and they also sent me a copy of something from the Internet for what happens in early (stages of) pregnancy,” she said.

"It's not about the $400, it's just the fact you should get help even on the weekend, even after 5pm."

However Professor George Braitberg, Director of Emergency Medicine at Southern Health said while miscarriages were an ‘emotionally charged’ experience for women, they were ‘an inevitability we can’t change’.

LISTEN: Professor George Braitberg speaks with Neil Mitchell

He told Neil Mitchell is was “absolutely” satisfied with the way Ms Morehouse was treated, but offered his sincere condolences for her loss. He said approximately 20 per cent of pregnancies end in miscarriage.

"We follow the department of health guidelines for the principles of managing bleeding in early pregnancy... and it clearly states unless there is a clinical need to have an urgent ultrasound done, we organise follow-up and ultrasound for the next business day," he said.

"There's no treatment or management that is going to prevent that from occurring. If it's going to occur, hospitalisation, ultrasounds (and) blood tests won't change the natural progression."

Professor Braitberg said while Ms Morehouse was treated by a senior emergency physician, he admitted the hospital “could have done better” in giving her written guidelines on how to deal with early pregnancy bleeding.

He said while Ms Morehouse would have been the possible outcomes of ‘threatened miscarriage’, asked to report to staff if her condition changed, and made aware of available counselling support, she should’ve been provided with a hard copy of that information.

"I think (that’s only thing that we didn't do was that we didn't provide her with," he said.

Professor Braitberg defended the decision not to admit Ms Morehouse to hospital: "The alternative would be to admit her to hospital and I'm not sure what would've been achieved. Wouldn't you rather be home when something like that happens?"

LISTEN: Weronika Morehouse speaks with Neil Mitchell:

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Blog comments Your Say

  • She was provided with a service: She was spoken to by a trained professional that made an informed decision based on their examination and verbally gave her advice. The diagnosis was accurate.

    Just because it was not the desired outcome or advice she was seeking does not mean she doesn't have to pay the bill.

    Not having medical insurance is a bit risky, especially if you get pregnant while travelling. Maybe immigration should examine the conditions of her tourist visa?

    Pregnancy is a major change to your health. Wouldn't it be prudent to make yourself aware of stages of progress, risks, complications, and changes to your body, especially if you had already been trying with your partner for so long?

    Yes we are truly sorry you lost your baby. Nature seems to have a way of making sure things work out for the best, and you possibly may have had a malformed child should things have progressed the other way.

    Be comforted that the time of the learned professor to give you advice over the radio has not been added to the outstanding bill.

    Pay the bill. Go forth and try again, and our best wishes it works out for the best next time.

    Solmon's Sword Monday 29 October, 2012 - 12:28 PM
  • It is very easy to judge the medical assessment of the client, when you are only given one side of the story. One would expect that the client should have been seen and assesed by the medical practioner and given the relevant information to deal with the miscarriage at home & the necessary followup required.In formation chould also have be given in regard to any deterioration in her medical condition.It is a duty of care we owe to clients. Communication in our hospitals is very imoportant

    lynne Friday 26 October, 2012 - 11:36 AM
  • While I feel terribly sorry that this woman suffered a miscarriage, she did not hold a valid Medicare card, and obviously had no travel insurance. Why should Australn tax payers have to be resposible to wear the costs of these people. We pay a Medicare levy. She needs to pay the bill.

    Gypsy Thursday 25 October, 2012 - 8:24 PM
  • I was admitted to emergency on a Sunday in July for what turned out to be a ruptured Achilles. They advised my wife that there was a $380 fee as I was being admitted into emergency. This is a standard fee and not because Weronika was on a visa.
    As I had also received a large gash to the head, the doctors X-rayed all of my body - there were no broken bones and they advised that I would need to come back on Monday as there was no-one operating the ultra sound machine. They gave me drugs for the pain and sent me home.
    I came back on the Monday and was there for a full 7 hours and had the scan - a full rupture of the Achilles. 2 days later I was operated on.
    I am not comparing my injury to what Weronika went through, and I feel terrible for her loss. This is the system as it stands at the moment. She was treated no different to anyone else who would have turned up at the hospital. It is a very sad situation for her and her family and hopefully they will be able to conceive again.

    Drew Thursday 25 October, 2012 - 6:45 PM
  • If from a another Country ?? Have Health Insurance ???or "PAY" . I'm sorry Mitchell gave this women so much "AIR TIME.

    IAN Thursday 25 October, 2012 - 4:49 PM
  • Suggest Professor George Braitberg, Director of Emergency Medicine at Southern Health resign as truisms are no excusae for maltreatment

    skippyaust Thursday 25 October, 2012 - 4:38 PM

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