MELBOURNE - An Australian hospital apologised "unreservedly" Thursday after sending out notices to the doctors of more than 200 patients telling them they had died instead of being discharged.

The error by Austin Hospital in Melbourne was spotted within hours and the doctors were contacted, but not before at least one had called a family member to express their condolences, the Herald Sun newspaper reported.

Austin Health, which runs the hospital, said the notices -- which were sent on Wednesday, July 30 -- were a result of "human error" after changes to a death notification template were saved to the standard discharge template.

"On recognising the error on the Wednesday morning, Austin Hospital immediately contacted all GP clinics affected," Austin Health spokeswoman Taryn Sheehy said in a statement.

"We apologised unreservedly to affected clinics who, for the most part, were very understanding about the error."

Sheehy added that patient care was not affected, but the president of the Australian Medical Association's Victoria state branch, Tony Bartone, said the blunder was "unacceptable".

Full story: http://www.enca.com/...d-admin-blunder

-- eNCA 2014-08-14