Former Victorian hospital boss accused of misconduct after cluster of baby deaths
Posted On April 5, 2022
A former boss at a regional Victorian hospital where there was a cluster of baby deaths is being taken to the Victorian Civil Administrative Tribunal over allegations of professional misconduct.
Doctor Lee Gruner allegedly failed to follow up on findings that mothers and babies were being put at risk when she was medical director at Bacchus Marsh Hospital.
The doctor’s review of the obstetric unit in 2010 identified “extreme risk” to the service in terms of “staffing and increasing workload”.
The medical board alleges that Dr Gruner failed to follow up on the alarming findings.
Between 2013 and 2014, 10 babies were stillborn or died during birth, leading to a perinatal mortality rate “significantly higher than the state average”.
An investigation found seven of the 10 deaths were avoidable, with the preventable tragedies blamed on the misuse of foetal heart monitors.
Obstetrician Dr Surinder Parhar was later banned from practicing after admitting to a number of errors.
However, now the medical board claims his superior, Dr Gruner, also engaged in misconduct.
It is alleged she carried out a deficient performance review of Dr Parhar, using survey information from his colleagues instead of data that showed the growing cluster of baby deaths.
Lawyers for Dr Gruner say she was put in charge of a poorly designed system that should have been better managed by the CEO and board members, adding that the doctor’s hours were cut back because the hospital wanted to save money.