Sunday, September 7, 2008

Man dies waiting 8 hours for a bed in Townsville Hospital

AN elderly man has died while waiting for a ward bed at Queensland's overcrowded Townsville Hospital after being left in a corridor for more than eight hours.

The man, believed to have had cancer, was monitored by medical and nursing staff during the delay to transfer him to a ward at the troubled hospital.
Health Minister Stephen Robertson yesterday said he had referred the case to the Health Quality and Complaints Commission for independent review.
"I view this matter very seriously and that's why I'll be referring this incident to the independent health watchdog," Mr Robertson said.
"It's my responsibility to ensure that when events such as this occur that we don't sweep it under the carpet and we get full disclosure in terms of the facts of what actually occurred and learn from them, if there are in fact lessons to be learned."
Several doctors and nurses contacted The Sunday Mail late last week expressing concern at the over-crowding in the hospital.
One staff member said it used to be unacceptable practice to have more than eight patients waiting to be admitted to a ward.
But, he said, the hospital now had to deal with the tragedy and shame of a patient dying on a trolley in a corridor.
"He was very sick, but he waited a very long time for a bed – and didn't get one," said an emergency department nurse, who asked not to be identified, about the man's death last Tuesday.
"He was in the corridor with patients on trolleys in front of him and behind him ... he was rushed into the resuscitation room, but he wasn't revived. It's just terrible."
Acting Townsville Health Service District CEO Mary Bonner said the first priority for the hospital was ensuring that the patient's family was informed and supported.
The death comes a week after Mr Robertson dismissed the concerns of Dr Sylvia Andrew-Starkey from the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine.
Dr Andrew-Starkey said she had referred information to Queensland Health about people dying because of bed access problems in hospitals.
But Mr Robertson challenged Dr Andrew-Starkey to provide evidence of a link between wait times and harm to patients.
Professor Drew Richardson, from the Australian National University, told The Sunday Mail he could direct the minister to two major studies carried out in Australia and two more from America which showed the link.
"There are cases where coroners have handed down adverse findings in relation to the outcome of patients who have had to wait for extended periods to be admitted, Prof Richardson said.
"There are cases where death has been a direct result of dysfunctional environments in emergency departments."
Townsville Hospital's emergency department was designed to cater for 38,000 patients each year. Last financial year almost 62,000 sought treatment there.
The demand has led to up to 24 patients each day remaining in the emergency department, some of them for up to 48 hours, until beds can be found in overcrowded wards.


Latest Posts

Latest Comments