Saturday, January 31, 2009


Three current news reports below

Big deal: NSW hospital death "not from lack of beds or staff"

But it obviously WAS due to insufficient diagnostic testing -- scans etc. There is no reason why diagnostic imaging could not have been done same day. That was once routine and still is in some hospitals

The NSW Government has apologised to the family of a man who died a day after being discharged from hospital, but says his death was not due to a lack of beds or medical staff. Brendan Burns, 24, was discharged from Griffith Base Hospital on Monday with a bad headache and died the following day at Sydney's St Vincent's Hospital from an undiagnosed brain tumour. Greater Southern Area Health Service (GSAHS) Chief Executive Heather Gray yesterday said the matter was being investigated, and would also be referred to the Health Care Complaints Commission.

Health Minister John Della Bosca today apologised to Mr Burns' family but said his death was not linked to staffing levels nor patient capacity at Griffith. "I extend my commiserations to his family, I feel deeply sorry that this has happened," Mr Della Bosca said. "All the evidence I have is that there was a great deal of professional skill involved in the handling of the case. "My advice is there was no bed shortage ... there was no staff shortage."

GSAHS said the man arrived at Hay Hospital on Sunday and was transferred to Griffith Base Hospital on Monday. He was discharged in the early hours of Monday, went home and returned to Hay Hospital that same morning. Later on Monday, the man was flown from Hay Hospital to St Vincent's where he died on Tuesday.


Woman left lying in agony on NSW hospital floor

Tammy Hams thought she was "going to die" when she was offered a blanket and told to lie on a waiting room floor because staff at her local hospital could not find her a bed. Ms Hams was booked in for surgery at Wyong Hospital to remove possible cancerous lesions when doctors discovered a huge abscess causing "agonising pain". The 29-year-old said she spent 3« hours writhing in agony on the waiting room floor of the hospital's surgical ward on Wednesday before she was eventually given a bed. Staff at the hospital "categorically deny" her claims. [But see picture above]

The incident comes amid yet another hospital outrage, in which a 24-year-old man was discharged from Griffith Hospital early on Monday after complaining of sinus pain. The following day he again presented to the hospital and was flown immediately to Sydney's St Vincent's where he died from unknown causes. Greater Southern Health has launched an investigation into why he was discharged. And in Dubbo, doctors are threatening to quit because they routinely run out of basic medications.

Ms Hams said her GP had been trying to get her into hospital since Friday when she began feeling stabbing pains in her stomach. A biopsy four months ago revealed pre-cancerous lesions on her cervix, which if left would turn cancerous. "I thought I was going to die," Ms Hams told The Daily Telegraph yesterday from her hospital bed. "I have never been in that much pain in my life - it was agony."

She was booked-in for a hysterectomy and told to arrive at 9am. Her mother Jenny Leatham said she was "crying and doubled-over in pain" and could not sit on the waiting room chairs or stand, so they pleaded for a bed. "They gave her a blanket and said the best she could do was lie on the floor," Mr Leatham said. "The staff were so nice and you could see they were upset about what was happening. This is just unfair, I'm not rubbishing the staff. There just wasn't enough beds. "The system has to change."

A North Sydney Central Coast Health spokeswoman said an investigation found there was no shortage of beds and Ms Hams was "treated in a caring and timely manner". "It is unacceptable for a patient to be expected to lie on the floor and staff on duty when Ms Hams arrived at the hospital deny making any such recommendation," the spokeswoman said. The hospital argues she was assessed by an anaesthetist at 10.10am and that she asked for the blanket.

Mrs Leatham said by 12.30pm staff found her daughter a bed and she was operated on at 2pm. When surgeons cut her open they discovered a huge abscess pushing on her cervix. Unable to perform the hysterectomy they removed as much of the infection as they could and inserted a tube to drain it over the next seven to 10 days.

"If the abscess had burst while she was in the waiting room she would have died," Mrs Leatham said.

Wyong Hospital is just one of the state's many hospitals plagued with debt, bed shortages and a lack of specialist doctors. Last week its emergency department - one of the busiest in the state - lost all but one of its specialist doctors to Gosford Hospital so it could retain its status as a teaching hospital.

Senior doctors at Dubbo Base Hospital threatened to walk off the job after they ran out of morphine because the hospital could not afford to pay pharmaceutical companies. Patients in intensive care also sweltered for days in record temperatures because contractors could not be paid to fix the air conditioning.

The Greater Western Area Health Service reportedly owes more than $23 million to suppliers. Many are no longer prepared to provide food or medical equipment. The situation across the state is expected to get far worse before it gets any better. A report by auditing firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers last month revealed the state's health budget would blow out by as much as $900 million by March if dramatic changes were not made.


Queensland public hospitals have worst record for killing, maiming patients, botched operations

Queensland Health is a most obnoxious bureaucracy to work for so they are able to attract high quality staff in relatively small numbers only. The rest are often the dregs with nowhere else to go -- and it shows in the quality of their work

QUEENSLAND hospitals have the nation's worst published record for killing or maiming their patients through botched operations, medication errors and other mistakes. And NSW is one of the safest, reporting a third fewer serious errors despite its larger population.

The figures, released in a Productivity Commission report, provide a rare state-by-state breakdown of so-called "sentinel events" - the most preventable and potentially deadly mistakes that occur every year in the nation's hospitals, The Australian reports. Last year, the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care reported that sentinel events - ranging from discharging an infant to the wrong family to suicides by admitted patients - more than doubled nationally in 2006-07 compared with a year earlier.

The mistakes accounted for just 10 per cent of serious hospital errors recorded by the states and territories but made public only selectively. But of the 187 deadly or damaging lapses in judgment or procedure made public yesterday, Queensland accounted for over a quarter of the national total.

Its hospitals carried out procedures on the wrong patient or body part an alarming 33 times in 2006-07. They killed another six patients through medication errors, seriously injured or killed four mothers in childbirth, left surgical instruments or material inside three patients, and transfused incompatible blood once.

The next worst offender was Victoria (45), which was slammed by its Auditor-General last year for failing to adequately monitor hospital blunders. Some 135,000 patients - or one in 10 public hospital patients - in that state had endured a medical mistake, with more errors believed to have gone unreported. South Australia, with 36 sentinel events, was next in line, followed by NSW (32), Western Australia (15), the ACT (7), the Northern Territory (2) and Tasmania (1).

"A high number of sentinel events may indicate hospital systems and process deficiencies that compromise the quality and safety of public hospitals," the Productivity Commission said. The willingness to report major mistakes could also influence the totals, it noted.


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