Australian hospital accidentally declares 200 people dead

Thursday 14 August 2014 16.24
The error at a hospital in Melbourne was spotted within hours
The error at a hospital in Melbourne was spotted within hours

An Australian hospital has apologised "unreservedly" after sending out notices to the doctors of more than 200 patients telling them they had died, instead of that they had been discharged.

The error by Austin Hospital in Melbourne was spotted within hours and the doctors were contacted, but not before at least one had called a family member to express their condolences, the Herald Sun newspaper reported.

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

"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."

Ms Sheehy said patient care was not affected, but the 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."