Foetus ‘thrown out’ after miscarriage nightmare

A health professional has slammed the hospital system and its treatment of women during miscarriage after two horrendous experiences that include passing out due to not being given pain relief and having her foetus 'thrown out' when she wanted to do DNA testing.

Gemma Carey, who is an Associate Professor of public health from the University of NSW said she was admitted to Moruya District Hospital last weekend.

Supplied photo of Associate Professor Gemma Carey with her partner Ben O'Mara.
Supplied photo of Associate Professor Gemma Carey with her partner Ben O'Mara.

The Canberra-based academic said she already knew from a scan that her eight-week-old baby had no heartbeat but she was induced to "give birth to my dead baby" with no offer of pain relief. She also said the on-call doctor would not see her "or prescribe pain relief even after I passed out".

She later tweeted that a nurse had "thrown out" her baby and she was forced to "sort through a bucket with a Dr to look for baby bits" before she was taken to surgery ''to get more baby bits for DNA testing. Australia: this is your healthcare system".

Prof Carey said the midwives at Moruya hospital were wonderful but staff cuts meant there was only one doctor in the emergency department and he could not see her to offer pain relief.

Screen grab of Associate Professor Gemma Carey's tweets on her miscarriage
Screen grab of Associate Professor Gemma Carey's tweets on her miscarriage

"I passed out from the pain during labour but still they only offered panadeine forte," she said.

Prof Carey said the doctor who gave her the drugs to induce labour on admission did not explain there would be no pain relief.

"I didn't understand I was consenting to no pain relief and they didn't explain to me they were putting me into labour," she said.

"The hospital only had one doctor on and no matter how hard the midwives tried, the doctor could not leave the ER. They've stripped hospitals to only have one doctor on and I'm pretty sure I wasn't the only one in pain that night."

Her baby was also accidentally discarded during a nursing handover.

Screen grab of Associate Professor Gemma Carey's tweets on her miscarriage
Screen grab of Associate Professor Gemma Carey's tweets on her miscarriage

"We really wanted to do genetic testing because it was the second miscarriage but the (next) nurse came in and was not informed that we wanted to keep everything for the genetic tests," she said.

The bungle forced her to undergo a curette (surgical procedure to remove the foetus) in an attempt to get some remaining DNA from her lost baby.

Remarkably, the 35-year-old Canberra-based academic said her miscarriage treatment at Canberra Hospital earlier this year was even worse.

In May she went to Canberra Hospital ER where she found the baby had passed away at 12 weeks.

"Their suggestion was to give me drugs to induce labour and to go home and give birth at home," she said.

"The baby also had trisomy 13 (a condition resulting in severe physical deformities) so it would have been horrific for us. It was my private obstetrician from Sydney who called Canberra Hospital and said this is not how you do things and informed them to do a curette. And I refused to leave the hospital until they operated.

"It was poor medical practice and women are being sent home to go into labour at 12 weeks."

She also said last weekend's miscarriage proved that many women must be suffering in silence after poor treatment.

"As a professor of public health wanting to navigate a miscarriage without excess pain and trauma - if I can't do it, how can anyone else?" she said.

Bereavement counsellor with Bears of Hope Kelly Merchant said the story was unfortunately not rare.

"Sadly it's not uncommon, there is certainly a mentality that a miscarriage is just a medical by-product," Ms Merchant said.

October is pregnancy and infant loss awareness month but Ms Merchant said clearly there was still much work to be done to support women going through miscarriage.

"We can do this better. From a medical point of view, some see it as a medical procedure but the focus really needs to be on the fact this is someone's baby," Ms Merchant said.

A spokesman for the Southern NSW Local Health District (SNSWLHD) said they could not comment "due to patient privacy and confidentiality".



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