Six deaths under review after hospital failure claims

Six deaths at a major hospital have been referred to the coroner for investigation after allegations records were altered and legal reporting requirements not followed.

Tasmania's health department launched a review after a Launceston General Hospital nurse accused a senior manager of falsifying death certificates and not reporting deaths to the coroner.

Acting secretary Dale Webster said the department would refer six deaths to the coroner for consideration, as recommended by the review.

"All of these cases were originally assessed by a single staff member, who is no longer employed by the department of health," he said. 

Mr Webster said the independent review panel would also examine further cases the identified staff member, who has not been named by the department, was involved in.

Deaths are legally required to be reported to the coroner if they occur before or after a medical procedure and were not reasonably expected by a practitioner. 

Launceston General Hospital nurse and midwife Amanda Duncan raised the allegations about the senior manager during a parliamentary inquiry in February. 

She said she had received 11 reports from doctors and nurses who disclosed alleged misconduct relating to the death of a patient, including falsified medical certificates of death. 

Mr Webster said the review panel, led by Adjunct Professor Debora Picone AO, had undertaken a "significant amount of work".

The panel informed the department they had not observed any practices or evidence to indicate there is a systemic issue, he said.

He added Ms Picone had commended staff on the high standard of care provided and quality of documentation observed through the file and case reviews.

The department was following standard process for referrals to the coroner, including contacting families and providing them information and support, Mr Webster said.

"We are committed to supporting any families and individuals who may be affected by this process," he said. 

People who may have relevant information have been urged to contact the department. 

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