A misplaced mouse-click has been blamed for issuing death notices of more than 200 living patients when they were discharged from a Melbourne hospital.
Erroneous death notices were generated for every patient discharged from Austin Hospital on one day, and the forms then automatically faxed to each patient's GP.
The hospital has apologised, and traced the problem to "human error" when a form was updated.
A computer file was saved to the wrong location, substituting the death notice for the standard patient discharge form.
"Austin Health automatically notifies GPs when their patients are discharged from hospital," Austin Health communications director Taryn Sheehy said.
"Notifications sent in the early hours of Wednesday, 30th July, incorrectly advised GPs that their patients, who had been discharged the previous day from the Austin Hospital, had died.
"The error involved notification in relation to over 200 patients."
Ms Sheehy said the fault was recognised within hours and all affected GP clinics were then notified.
The mix-up was not linked to the hospital's recent introduction of a new booking system, she said, and at no times did it impact on patient care.
"We apologised unreservedly to affected clinics who, for the most part, were very understanding about the error," Ms Sheehy said.
The mouse click also reverberated through Victorian politics.
Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews said the error was "symptomatic of a health system that is in crisis, a health system where emergency departments are full".
Premier Denis Napthine said the hospital had taken steps to remedy its "regrettable" mistake.
"I understand it's a human error," Dr Napthine told reporters.
"The Austin have apologised to the people concerned and have taken every action as quickly as possible to remedy this mistake."