Oops! Aussie hospital mistakenly 'kills off' over 200 patients

This article is more than 12 months old

It's an embarrassing boo-boo, to say the least.

An Australian hospital declared more than 200 patients had died instead of being discharged – and now has to apologise “unreservedly” after faxing death notices to the patients' general practitioners (GPs).

Austin Hospital in Melbourne spotted the error within hours.

Staff contacted the GPs, but not before at least one doctor had called a family member to express condolences, the Herald Sun newspaper reported.

Austin Health, which runs the hospital, said the notices – which were sent on Wednesday, July 30 – were a result of “human error”. It seems changes to a death notification template were saved to the standard discharge template.

Unacceptable blunder

“On recognising the error on the Wednesday morning, Austin Hospital immediately contacted all GP clinics affected,” Austin Health spokeswoman Taryn Sheehy said in a statement.

“We apologised unreservedly to affected clinics who, for the most part, were very understanding about the error.”

Sheehy added that patient care was not affected but president of the Australian Medical Association’s Victoria state branch, Tony Bartone, said the blunder was “unacceptable”.

“IT issues must not undermine patient care or trust in the Victorian healthcare system,” he said in a statement.

“Many of these GPs have long relationships with these patients and their families.

“It would have been distressing to receive such a fax, especially relating to the unexpected death of children and teenagers.”

Sources: Herald Sun, AFP