Hospital treatment could be complex and often requires the involvement of multiple medical professionals across various medical specialties. The effective coordination of medical treatment is essential to ensuring that adequate care is provided to patients. This is particularly true in the case of neonates and young children, given the relative immaturity and vulnerability of their undeveloped systems. Delayed planning and inadequate coordination of medical treatment may lead to serious consequences for children and their families. Public hospitals across NSW have in recent years experienced inconsistencies in the availability of specialized pediatric services. Unfortunately, we are seeing the devastating impact that these inconsistencies can have on families.
In a recent case, a premature neonate developed a bacterial infection at a neonatal intensive care unit of a tertiary hospital that is not a paediatric hospital and lacks specialist paediatric consultants. The child’s bacterial infection evolved into sepsis and eventually septic meningitis. A series of telephone calls and emails were exchanged between the hospital and paediatric specialists at a paediatric hospital in an attempt to formulate a treatment plan. Telephone calls and email correspondence are of limited utility as there is a risk of conveying an incomplete clinical picture on which the paediatric specialists base their recommendations. This form of communication deprives the paediatric specialists of the benefit of personal examination of the patient and of closely monitoring the child’s progress. In the absence of examination and close monitoring of the child, the risk of failure to appreciate the significance of clinical information increases. In our particular case, the child required urgent transfer to a paediatric hospital for radiological investigations and brain surgery. Ultimately, the child was transferred to a paediatric facility almost one week later than should have occurred and required multiple brain surgeries to save her life. Sadly, this delay of one week has left the child with severe and irreversible brain damage.
A review of the availability of specialist pediatric services was commissioned in late 2018 by NSW Health. For the full article please click on https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/kidsfamilies/paediatric/Pages/henry-review.aspx
If you believe that yourself or your loved ones is a victim of medical negligence please feel free to contact Turner Freeman. We have expert team of Personal Injury Law lawyers, especially medical negligence experts who will be able to assist your case.