Monday, October 29, 2007


It's not only the State of NSW that has big problems. Three reports below

Public hospital negligence destroys a baby's future

How would YOU like to send your baby to hospital with diarrhoea and get him back with a damaged brain? It didn't happen to me. When my son developed gastro problems in his early childhood, he was taken to a top private hospital and immediately put on a drip. He was not released until he was well again. He is now a 6' tall healthy wealthy and happy mathematician. Working hard and saving your money really helps. Spending it as you get it is negligent because trusting your children to the government is negligent -- as negligence is all you can reliably expect from any government system. Negligence works in its own way too -- a very sad way, as we see below:

A year ago baby Ryan Mason was a happy, healthy newborn, delighting his young parents with his smiles. But at just 11 weeks Ryan developed severe brain damage after being sent home from Caboolture Hospital while allegedly still dehydrated and suffering gastroenteritis. A few hours after arriving home the baby turned blue, stopped breathing and suffered cardiorespiratory arrest while his parents rushed him back to hospital. Ryan was flown to Royal Brisbane Hospital, where his 22-year-old parents, Teisha-Lee and Tim Mason of Toorbul, north of Brisbane, were told he had brain damage. Ryan, now 13 months, developed cerebral palsy, cannot hold his head up or control his arms and may have vision problems.

A claim for damages for personal injuries has been served on Queensland Health, along with an expert's report, by Quinn and Scattini Lawyers. Dr John Raftos, a senior Sydney emergency medicine specialist, said in the report it was his opinion that if hospital staff "had properly assessed and treated Ryan's gastroenteritis and dehydration he would not, on balance of probabilities, have developed hypovolaemic shock and permanent brain damage".

Ryan had been having bouts of diarrhoea when Mrs Mason first took him to Caboolture Hospital on December 10 last year. He was diagnosed with gastroenteritis and sent home, but the next day he was admitted and treated with intravenous fluids for dehydration. Mrs Mason said that during his second night Ryan had diarrhoea every 20 minutes from midnight until 5am on December 13 and was screaming.

Medical records showed that a pediatric team ordered that Ryan and his wet nappies be weighed four times a day to check on his rehydration. Dr Raftos said in his report this was not done and in his opinion Ryan was discharged home while still dehydrated. Lawyer Damian Scattini said Ryan's case was "another preventable tragedy brought about by systems failure within a Queensland public hospital".

A Queensland Health spokeswoman said the department could not comment on legal proceedings.


State government caves in on one hospital

With a "fudge" that would do the British proud. A "British fudge" is a bit hard to define but it is basically a partial retreat or concession that is disguised as not being a retreat or a concession

The crisis at Brisbane's Princess Alexandra Hospital has been solved, with all beds to be reopened and surgery restored after cancellations. A budget blowout had forced the hospital to turn away the sick last week, with 60 beds closed and 20 per cent of operating theatre procedures cancelled. But Premier Anna Bligh stepped in yesterday and ordered the impasse be resolved. She eased the squeeze on hospital budget constraints - giving the PA an extra year to balance the books - and hinted that extra funds would be handed over in December.

The situation had been in deadlock with PA management and the Australian Medical Association Queensland accusing the Queensland Government of under-funding one of the state's biggest public hospitals. Ms Bligh had refused extra money for the hospital, saying it had to manage on a record $33 million budget increase this year. An eight-hour "bypass" on Wednesday, when all new patients were redirected to another hospital, made the emergency worse.

But Ms Bligh - as she did with the Caboolture Hospital ER crisis two years ago - brokered a peace deal with the AMAQ and hospital managers. There was no initial new money, but sources said the PA Hospital would be well compensated by the Government at the mid-year Budget review. Ms Bligh told The Sunday Mail the agreement would see the projected budget over-run of $18 million progressively reduced over the next 18 months rather than in the current financial year.

She said PA chief executive officer Dr David Theile would introduce efficiency measures, including replacing nursing agency staff with Queensland Health-employed nurses. "This agreement, achieved after constructive talks between the Government, hospital managers and the AMAQ today, is good news for patients," Ms Bligh said. "The PA Hospital will progressively reopen beds and restore theatre lists. This will enable the hospital to return to full activity within a few weeks. "I have restated my commitment to reviewing the need for any increase in the PA Hospital's budget, along with all other public hospitals, in the mid-year Budget review. "Further, the Government will review funding needs for the whole public health system for 2008-09 and following years, as part of the Budget process early next year."

Ms Bligh and Dr Theile had clashed last week, with the Premier saying taxpayers were "entitled to see strong management ensuring that budgets are maintained". She denied a Government backflip on the issue yesterday after sending in her Director-General Ken Smith to negotiate with hospital management and the AMAQ. Ms Bligh said the Government would work with the hospital to manage its budget to ensure clinical standards were maintained, beds were reopened and theatre lists restored.

Leading PA visiting medical officer and AMAQ president Ross Cartmill welcomed the agreement and said the resolution was in the best interest of patients. "The Government's commitments today give me the confidence the PA Hospital can continue to provide top-quality service to our patients now and into the future," he said.


Hospital pen-pusher jobs on increase

ALMOST two-thirds of new appointments in Queensland public hospitals are non-medical, latest figures reveal. From May 2005-2006, Queensland Health boasted, clinical staff increased by 1200, but official figures show that 3196 extra staff were employed. A report stated that Queensland Health spent 82 per cent more on administration than any other state. [Because it is Australia's oldest "free" hospital system (started in 1944) and the cancer of bureaucracy has had longer to grow]

Liberal leader Bruce Flegg said money was being wasted on pen pushers: "Patients should not have to suffer because the numbers aren't right in the budget. Cuts should have been made from non-clinical areas." The Australian Medical Association said no cuts had been made to administration staff at the PA, but patients' operations had been cancelled.

Queensland AMA president Dr Ross Cartmill, who works at the PA, urged QH to investigate how many non-clinical staff were employed. "There are two types of non-clinical staff - the clinical support staff who work with the clinicians to make their life easier, and then there are the other group which is those who are employed purely in an administration role. We do believe too many of those . . . have been employed."

Representatives of QH and Health Minister Stephen Robertson refused to reveal how many non-clinical staff QH or the PA employed in the last year.


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