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"I thought I was going to die on that table": Mackay mum details traumatising experience at Base Hospital


Mackay mum Jem wants more children, but she is terrified of ever falling pregnant in her town again.

Last year, following an already difficult pregnancy, Jem - who wants to go by her first name only - gave birth to a baby boy at Mackay Base Hospital.

She has bravely chosen to detail her experience with Grant Broadcasters, following an internal investigation into the hospital's maternity practice.

Jem thought she was part of the small percentage who had a traumatic birth. She is not alone.

"Now I'm finding out I'm one of the many and it's disgusting that it's been just swept under the carpet."

When Jem was dilated five centimetres, the nurses and doctors found out her son's head was stuck in her cervix - she was going to need a caesarean.

"They cut me open, whatever, it's all going well - and then he (the doctor) touched my bowel while he was inside, pulling my son out. I actually started vomiting ... I couldn't breathe - they were telling me to calm down," Jem explains.

Without her own mum for support due to Covid restrictions, Jem says she felt like she could have died on that operating table.

After the surgery, and the successful delivery of her newborn son, Jem says her catheter was pulled out by a nurse, which scraped the inside of her urethra and left her in intense pain.

The accident kept her in hospital for nine extra days.

"When I said to them, something's not right - they put the catheter back in and told me I was pushing against it and making myself pee," she explains.

"They brought the doctor in and the doctor said it's all in your head, pretty much, you just need to calm down."

Complications escalate

Jem says mere hours after her caesarean, her doctor had her sign a number of waivers and documents surrounding the events inside the operating room.

"The doctor actually told me that when he was cutting through me, he flipped his scalpel over his knuckles and nicked his finger, and didn't notice until they were doing me all up."

Jem says she complained about her experience once in person. When her concerns were not escalated, she issued her complaint again over the phone, but did not receive any help.

"It's traumatised me because I wanted more than one child and I am terrified of getting pregnant in this town again," she says.

Mackay Base Hospital has declined to comment on individual cases, encouraging anyone with concerns to call the dedicated hotline.

Doctor suspended during investigation

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Mackay Base Hospital has today confirmed a senior medical officer has been suspended from its Obstetrics and Gynaecology Department.

The name of the doctor cannot be identified for legal reasons.

Another senior obstetrician has since been secured to work at the hospital "to ensure the continuation of obstetrics and gynaecology surgery."

Chief executive Lisa Davies Jones says since Tuesday, its dedicated feedback hotline has received 19 calls.

"Some of these relate to obstetrics and gynaecology surgery and others are more general inquiries about future care," Ms Davies Jones explains.

"The health service continues to work with the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists to provide appropriate support and mentoring for doctors undergoing specialist training."

"It should never have happened in the first place"

Patient advocate Beryl Crosby says she will meet with investigators in a bid to ensure every woman with a concern is heard.

In 2005, Ms Crosby went public with her experience with disgraced Bundaberg doctor, Jayant Patel.

She says no one should ever have to experience something like that.

"I'm just concerned that it [the investigation] may not go back far enough, so that's something that I'm going to raise with the chief executive," she says.

"I've had complaints that go back further and I want them included."

Ms Crosby is encouraging as many women as possible with concerns about the practice to come forward.

Despite the trauma, Jem says one positive thing to come out of her experience had been the midwives, who supported her during one of the toughest times of her life.

"I will say though that the midwives were amazing ... there was one midwife that really stuck out - her name was Amanda - and she just advocated for me."

Those wanting to provide feedback and report their concerns to Mackay Base Hospital can call 4885 6244, from 8.30am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday.