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  • Additional deaths probed after hospital failure claims

    Author: AAP

More than 60 deaths at a major hospital will be examined after irregularities were found during investigations into accusations records were altered and legal reporting requirements not followed.

Six deaths at Tasmania's Launceston General Hospital have already been referred to the coroner by the state health department on recommendations from a review.

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The review was set up in February after a nurse accused the hospital's former head of medical services of falsifying death certificates and not reporting deaths to the coroner.

The review has not found evidence of systemic issues at the hospital.

However, it noted all six deaths were originally assessed by a single unnamed former staff member who is no longer employed by the health department.

Head of the review panel, Adjunct Professor Debora Picone said "irregular" practices by the former staff member had been uncovered.

Prof Picone said this included the certification or alteration of medical certificates of cause of death without attending to the patient prior, as well as problems with "accurately documenting alleged conversations with the coroner's office".

"The panel will now examine an additional 63 matters to date that were originally assessed by the single former staff member," the department said on Tuesday.

Prof Picone said the six deaths met categories requiring referral to the coroner by law.

Three were deaths post-procedure, one was post-fall, while five of the six were considered "unexpected".

There are several scenarios where deaths are legally required to be reported to the coroner, including if they occur before or after a medical procedure and were not reasonably expected.

The department has urged people with any information to come forward and says it is supporting affected families.

Launceston General Hospital nurse and midwife Amanda Duncan raised allegations against former head of medical services Dr Peter Renshaw during a parliamentary inquiry.

She said she had received 11 reports from doctors and nurses alleging misconduct relating to the death of a patient, including falsified medical certificates of death.

Dr Renshaw, who retired in 2022, recently had his medical practitioner registration suspended.


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