Four months into her pregnancy, South Australian mum Candice Murray lost her baby. She then delivered her deceased baby in a hospital north of Adelaide and was sent home to grieve her loss.
Meanwhile, at the Port Pirie hospital, a series of mix-ups meant that Candice’s infant was dumped in a ‘bucket’ by hospital staff before the wrong body was sent to a funeral home. No one bothered to inform the parents, Candice and her partner, Shane.
An investigation has been launched into what exactly happened and how, according to The Advertiser.
Deceased baby treated ‘like rubbish’
SA Health whistleblowers have spoken out about the horrible treatment of the baby after it was delivered to Port Pirie Hospital from Adelaide, stating the foetus was treated “like rubbish” in Port Pirie Hospital’s mortuary.
According to Internal SA Health documents, the alleged blunder occurred on the night of Thursday, January 20, 2022.
A Meschke Funerals worker came to collect the deceased baby.
On arrival (to the morgue) we noticed a bucket place(d) on the racking system and also saw in the mortuary register a section which was filled out ’baby of (mother)’… with only the attending nurse and orderly’s name in the section,” they wrote.
“Protocol is that a hospital identification sticker (is) placed in the first box of the section as well as a time and date and which area/ward the deceased was from. None of this including the sticker were present. Due to the lack of appropriate identification both in the mortuary register and on the bucket in which the fetus (sic) was in, it was assumed that (the body) was to be collected.”
The staff realised the mistake the following day, and the wrong child was returned to the morgue fridge.
I, along with other (workers), were unaware of the second deceased child within the hospital and therefore led to believe the fetus (sic) within the morgue was the correct (one),” they wrote.
The staffer and the funeral parlour worker then asked a midwife “why there wasn’t the appropriate identification used to label the deceased child”.
The midwife claimed to be unaware of the date or time the baby had died, according to the complaint.
Protocol allegedly not followed
The mix-up appears to be a mislabelling and miscommunication issue that has allegedly been swept under the rug. Sources claimed the errors had not been fully disclosed to the local health network’s board and that there was no review, no rules changed, and officials denied the baby was uncovered or inappropriately labelled.
Sources said workers were aghast at how the baby was “discarded … like rubbish”.
Normally when someone passes away they place it in a body bag and then into the morgue on a table. It’s all labelled, all paperwork filled out,” a source said.
“How they didn’t do that process for this baby I don’t understand. No label on the bucket, nothing had been done correctly. As a parent you wouldn’t want to know that has happened to your child. It’s still a human being. It was very disrespectful and careless.”
Candice and Shane were not informed that any of this happened until recently.
Candice has experienced 13 miscarriages in the past and has five children aged 3 to 23, as well as two grandchildren. Losing a baby at 17 weeks is painful enough without discovering the mistreatment of the baby afterwards.
It’s like I lost a piece of me that day – I was so disappointed. I’m just disgusted they could do that. I can’t believe they would do it that way. I think (the hospital) should change their ways. It is so much worse than how you would treat an animal.”
I am stunned. It’s unbelievable. We haven’t been told anything about this. They’ve thrown it away like a piece of rubbish.”
Despite no review being undertaken at the time, hospital chiefs this week apologised while the Health Minister ordered a high-level review.