• Sat. Oct 29th, 2022

Sarah Hassan says she woke up to news that “broke my whole life”, having fallen into a coma due to being given 100 milligrams of morphine to ease labour pains, rather than 10mg, at a Bunbury private hospital last month.

Jan 16, 2021

A mother has described the heartbreaking moment she woke from a coma to discover her baby boy had died at birth after she was given 10 times the prescribed dose of morphine at a private hospital in the West Australian town of Bunbury.
Key points:

  • Sarah Hassan and Sunny Alam arrived at the hospital for what they described as an uncomplicated pregnancy
  • Ms Hassan was given morphine as she went further into labour, but fell into a coma after being given too much
  • The baby died and Ms Hassan was put into intensive care as her body reacted to the massive overdose

Sarah Hassan and her husband Sunny Alam said she was given 100 milligrams of the drug during labour instead of 10 milligrams to ease the pain, at St John of God Hospital on December 10.
“It was devastating. It just broke my whole life,” Ms Hassan said.
St John of God Health Care has already concluded: “On the available information at this time, it appears that the incident was caused by human error”.
A midwife has been stood down and her registration suspended by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency.
Another staff member has resigned.
The child mortality committee of the Department of Health and the coroner will investigate.
The couple had gone to the hospital on December 9 after what they described as an uncomplicated pregnancy.
Sunny Alam says Sarah Hassan was given 10 times the prescribed dose of morphine.(ABC News: Nicolas Perpitch)
Mr Alam said that because his wife was not very advanced in her labour, they were told the delivery would not occur that day, although she could have morphine to help her relax.
When she started to feel stronger and stronger pain, she decided to take the medication, as recommended.
But it went horribly wrong.
“Then within 3 to 5 minutes, she directly went to coma,” Mr Alam said.
He initially thought she was in a deep sleep, but in the morning when medical staff realised there was a problem, they asked him to leave the room.
Deeply anxious, he said he started to panic as he realised something had gone very wrong.
Doctors later told him something he never expected to hear.
“I have a baby boy, which we were dreaming for a long time,” he said.
“And within a few seconds, ‘but your baby is no more’.”
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In shock and with grief overcoming him, he held his son.
“His body was still warm, so I was in disbelief that he was alive or dead. No, I think he’s alive. I can’t believe ” he said.
But then the doctor told him they had to take Ms Alam to the intensive care unit, as her body reacted to the massive overdose of morphine.
She was flown to Perth’s Fiona Stanley Hospital, where she eventually stabilised.
He met with the St John of God Staff.
“They had done their primary investigation. She had been given 10 times the prescribed dose,” Mr Alam said.
“How anyone can do that kind of thing because that destroyed our family within a moment? That destroyed anyone’s dream.”
When Ms Hassan woke up after four days, she wanted to know where her baby was.
“I was looking everywhere for my baby. He was not there,” she recounted, sucking in air sharply at the difficult memory.
Mr Alam said after the days of trauma he had also experienced, he did not have it in him to tell his wife their baby had died.
Sarah Hassan says she woke to news that “broke my whole world”.(ABC News: Nicolas Perpitch)
It was Ms Hassan’s mother who told her, via a video call.
“And she was telling me that it happened, it happened to anyone so you need to be relaxed,” she said.
“Then I realised that my baby’s gone.”
She was able to see and hold her baby boy.
Now, still deeply grieving, she wanted to warn others to be careful and not trust too easily.
“Ask when given medicine, ask what is it, how much it is,” she said.
Premier Mark McGowan said it was tragic for the family.
“To lose a child is beyond description,” he said.
“And so we all feel for the family. There’ll be a proper investigation by the authorities, both the Department of Health and the coroner. But it is a tragic, tragic situation. Our hearts go out to the family.”