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Mother discharged from hospital after C-section because of a 'lack of beds'

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An Adelaide mother was last night sent home from the Lyell McEwin Hospital – without her baby – a day after giving birth by caesarean section because of a lack of beds, her family says.

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The family is furious – and doctors say it’s “shocking” and “risky” – but the hospital insists it’s standard practice.

The woman’s mother-in-law tweeted about the situation last night, tagging Health Minister Stephen Wade and SA Health.

“Now I am angry,” said Katrina, who has asked InDaily not to publish her surname to protect the family’s privacy.

“Daisy was born via C-section yesterday and Lyell McEwin Hospital are saying Mum has to go home without Daisy because they have no beds! 24 hours after caesarean!”

Katrina said her son and daughter-in-law were shocked.

“Mum is bleeding. On heavy pain killers, and has to sit in a chair all night as she won’t leave baby and hospital. Supposed to be a happy time but they are both in tears,” she said.

“She’s still bleeding. On Endone and was given no instructions re wound care. Also sleep deprived. My son just broke down in tears on the phone to me. I am so pissed off at our health system!”

Australian Medical Association state president Dr Michelle Atchison has described the situation as “shocking”, replying to the tweet: “I am so sorry.”

The doctors’ union told InDaily the quick discharge was concerning and a reflection of the strain on the hospital system.

Dr David Pope, immediate past president of the SA Salaried Medical Officers Association, said “the reality is we are discharging patients before it’s even safe to do so”.

“It reflects the enormous pressure on beds that hospitals rely on discharging people before it’s appropriate for them to be discharged,” he said.

“It’s high risk because there are complications.”

Katrina this morning told InDaily her son had eventually convinced his partner to let him take her home, rather than sit in a chair all night.

Daisy – who had required oxygen treatment in the special care unit – was going to be discharged today.

Pope said it was “clearly wrong” to send a mother home a day after giving birth via C-section without her baby.

“Who would separate a mother and her newborn baby like that – it’s just inhumane,” he said.

“And then you have got the risk of picking up an infection outside the hospital and bringing it into the special care nursery as well.”

Pope said doctors were under pressure to discharge new mothers “as early as possible, so day of or day after delivery”.

“Having a C-section doesn’t even much change that,” he said.

“Obstetricians have raised this with me over the years because they don’t think it’s appropriate.

“I have had obstetricians approach me about the discharge policies and how they felt it was not the safe thing to do.”

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Northern Adelaide Local Health Network said: “Under our hospital policy, patients can be safely discharged 24 hours after an elective caesarean section.”

“It is not uncommon however for a new baby who requires additional observation and care to remain in hospital after their parent has been assessed as fit and safe to be discharged,” the spokesperson said.

“Family accommodation can be available in the Lyell McEwin Hospital’s Women’s Health Unit for mothers of unwell babies in the Special Care Nursery, however this space is limited and depends on demand.

“Additionally recliners are also available as an alternative for parents in the Special Care Nursery if required.”

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