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Bendigo Health convicted and fined $100,000 over patient's death in 2016

The children of a woman who took her own life while she was a patient at Bendigo Health have spoken out after the health service was convicted of failing to ensure her safety.

In a statement, the woman's children said they were glad Bendigo Health had been held accountable.

Warning: This story contains content that may be distressing for some readers.

"The tragedy that happened to our mum under the care of Bendigo Health should not have happened," the statement reads.

"The tremendous pain and suffering we carry from the loss of our mum is unbearable.

"We miss her every single day and the hurt of not having her around is irreparable.

"Nothing will ever bring her back." 

Bendigo Health has been convicted of failing to ensure a patient wasn't exposed to risk, and fined $100,000, in relation to a patient's death at the hospital.

The woman, who cannot be named, was admitted to hospital experiencing suicidal ideation.

She died after being found unresponsive with a plastic bag on August 27, 2016.

The health service pleaded guilty to failing ensure a patient's safety.

"She was vulnerable," Magistrate Megan Aumair said.

"There is no doubt that the potential risk here was a serious one, giving rise to a risk of death or serious injury."

Bendigo Magistrates Court heard nurses checked on the woman as regularly as every 15 minutes, after she was found with a plastic bag and other items, weeks before her death.

In her sentencing remarks, Magistrate Aumair said Bendigo Health was sentenced according to the "gravity of the breach of duty" rather than the result or consequence of the breach.

"The failure here is a limited one," she said.

"Failing to identify its contractor was using plastic liners in sanitary bins.

"There is no evidence to suggest Bendigo Health demonstrated a disregard to the safety of workers or patients."

Ms Aumair told the court Bendigo Health failed to identify the risk posed to patients, by failing to identify the contractor used plastic liners for sanitary bins.

"It should have required its contractor to use non-plastic liners."

Procedures improved after death

The woman's daughter also said, on behalf of her four children, they hoped Bendigo Health took responsibility. 

"We hope that this is a step towards Bendigo Health taking responsibility ... and that they acknowledge the irrevocable toll this loss has put on our family."

In a statement Bendigo Health said it offered its sincere and deepest sympathies to the family. 

"The health service entered a guilty plea at the earliest opportunity. We accept the Courts decision," a spokesperson said.

"Following the coroner's report we have made a number of changes to our protocols and practices. Our entire service strives for continuous improvement."

The court heard Bendigo Health had improved procedures.

It now uses paper bin liners in sanitary bins, has retrained staff and uses a colour coordinated audit system for sanitary bins.

Bendigo Health was convicted of failing to ensure a patient was not exposed to risk and fined $100,000.

Magistrate Aumair said it would have been fined $300,000, if it had not pleaded guilty.

The maximum fine for the charge is $388,650.

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