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Probe into child deaths in Victorian EDs

At least seven pediatric deaths along with other serious adverse events at hospitals will be investigated by Safer Care Victoria.

Premier Daniel Andrews has expressed sympathy to the families of children who died in Victorian emergency departments since April as concerns grow over the state’s embattled healthcare system.

“That’s important to (monitor) the individual circumstances of every single tragedy, making sure that we learn from those individual cases,” he said.

“If there have been hospital-wide or system-wide or service-wide issues that need to be dealt, there’s the framework to do that.”

During 2020-21, there were 20 sentinel events that affected babies, children and adolescents, a slight drop from 23 the previous reporting period.

Safer Care Victoria is investigating deaths and sentinel events that have occurred this year and the data for the next report will be released in 2023.

In a statement, Safer Care Victoria said all adverse incidents are subject to an in-depth sentinel event review to identify the causes and make recommendations to prevent future events.

“We work closely with health services to review every sentinel event and identify any potential emerging trends, so hospitals can implement recommended improvements as quickly as possible,” the statement reads.

“We’re building a strong reporting culture among hospital staff to learn from sentinel events and avoid tragic outcomes for more families in the future – working with health services to increase the reporting of these incidents every year.”

Health minister Mary-Anne Thomas said Safer Care Victoria was established in 2017 to investigate unexplained events and to ensure families get the answers they need.

Opposition health spokeswoman Georgie Crozier described the child deaths as “appalling”.

“For Safer Care Victoria to say we’re not even going to investigate these until next year, until the data comes in, demonstrates just how out of touch this government is,” Ms Crozier said.

“It is truly shocking and appalling.”

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