Lidia Monteverdi on 2GB Deborah Knight Show discussing Medical Negligence 6 July 2021
Lidia Monteverdi providing Q & A on 2GB Deborah Knight Show discussing Medical Negligence 6 July 2021
CS – Chris Smith/LM – Lidia Monteverdi /C1,2,3, etc – Callers
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DK And every Tuesday they join us for free legal advice, Turner Freeman Lawyers, this week we’re looking at the NSW enquiry into rural and regional hospitals and some of the stories coming out of this enquiry are quite shocking, patients waiting for hours for help, some feeling stranded without any staff to actually provide the assistance they need. Joelle Matar from Turner Freeman Lawyers is on the line to take your questions on health care, especially the standards of health care in hospitals in particular, so if you’ve got a question, a query, 131 873, free legal advice and as always we’ve got a $100 Westfield voucher to give away to the caller who does ask the best question in our legal matters segment today. Joelle thanks for joining us on Afternoons.
JM Hello Deb, thank you.
DK Now, with under resourced hospitals, because that’s what this enquiry has been looking at specifically in NSW into rural and regional hospitals, a lot of it does come down to under resourcing, who’s to blame when something does go wrong here, if it’s not an individual doctor but the system?
JM Well it’s really difficult because at the end of the day if it is a doctor who had been employed by a public hospital or a doctor that’s providing services at a public hospital, at the end of the day it is a public hospital that then ends up being the defendant, so it ultimately goes back to the treasury managed funds.
DK So you can get recourse then in that situation?
JM Yes, of course. You know if you are talking about for example, the registrar that was employed by the hospital and it’s a public hospital, they are obviously vicariously liable for their employees or if you are you know looking into something that a specialist had done wrong you would also be including the hospital because they also have a non-delegable duty of care, so they are still responsible for wrongful acts or omissions by those doctors as well as their employees.
DK And the enquiry itself which is still ongoing has shown this real difference between the standard of care the patients can get in regional areas compared to in the city. What are the key issues that might arise when dealing with the health system?
JM It’s been honestly shocking, that’s kind of my take on it. The standard of care has been described as poor and it’s obviously associated with poor health outcomes for those patients and I’ll give you some examples of things that I found to be quite striking, I mean people who happen to live close to the Lismore area, who had needed an ambulance to go to the hospital and receive some emergency medical care, once they had been discharged out of the emergency department they found themselves stranded. So picture this, you’ve been to hospital, in your nightgown or pyjamas, they’ve you know treated you, let you go home but then you’ve gone outside and you’ve got no way to get home and home could be you know quite a far bit away, so this is obviously for somebody who is particularly vulnerable as they are not feeling well, somebody that’s got no one there to take them home, it would be a nightmare for me personally being outside in my pyjamas with no way of getting home. And it discourages those patients to go into an emergency department and seek emergency care if they need it, so some of them just decide to stay home and I think that’s something that’s been looked into at the moment.
DK Absolutely, and Broken Hill Hospital too is in the news today, some pretty distressing stories about the level of care provided there. Residents saying they have been scared to speak out about mistakes including staff using the wrong equipment and even leaving patients unattended while they had a seizure.
JM Yeah, look it’s really sad, it’s really, really sad and they’re talking about upgrades to Dubbo Hospital to Maxfield Hospital but there’s no talk about staffing, I mean you could upgrade a hospital, extend it and you know build it up and do all those things but at the end of the day, if you don’t have enough people who are appropriately skilled then those upgrades don’t really rectify the problem.
DK But how do you then as an individual who is seeking health care in a hospital, how do you actually know if the level of staffing is where it should be?
JM Well they really, it really comes down to people who are in a senior position and people who are in that intermediate level where they really have to be able to report on in adequate staffing, they’re the people who really have to say look we don’t have enough staff members who can do these things and then report to us or we can come back and supervise and unfortunately if those numbers don’t get reported on accurately, then you’ve got the deficiencies. One example came out of, I think it was, I can’t remember if it was Bonalbo, but they were talking about how there is an x-ray facility but this x-ray facility doesn’t actually have anyone to operate it and they’ve got to radiographer who is there 2 hours per fortnight, so if you are somebody that sustained an injury, you know you fell and you needed to get an x-ray, if you happen to injure yourself beyond those 2 hours a fortnight, what do you do?
DK Yeah exactly, you may as well not have the equipment if it’s not being utilised the way it should be.
JM It’s just heart breaking, even children having to wait up to 2 years for a paediatric appointment. Cancer patients having to go to the Gold Coast to have specialist appointments. It’s just, it’s just not right. You know we do have one of the best health care systems in NSW, you know compared to the health care system around the world but it shouldn’t depend on where you live. We all deserve the same standard of care regardless of your postcode.
DK Yeah, well that’s the truth of it, the post code does dictate your health you receive sadly in many areas. You might have a question for Joelle Matar from Turner Freeman Lawyers, 131 873 is the number to call or you can text in which is what Charlie has done on 0460 873 873. Charlie is wondering, Joelle about ambulance care and Charlie says I called an ambulance in the past week for my sick 12 months old daughter and the two ambulance drivers would not take her, is that something they are allowed to do? Are you able to refuse health care to someone if they do call an ambulance?
JM I really don’t know, was there a particular reason that they refused to take her to a hospital?
DK They haven’t gone into the further detail of that.
JM Look I’m really not sure. It may have been reasonable for them not to do that depending on what they decided when they assessed her child. I really don’t know much about how sick her child was and whether she did need emergency care. I mean sometimes they assess the patient and if they determine that the patient doesn’t need emergency care, they do make that decision.
DK So if there’s anything further Charlie, you’ve got a question perhaps you can call in 131 873. Oh, Charlie is saying she had bronchitis.
JM Oh okay, well it depends again, you know what were her symptoms was she already talking antibiotics, was she already under the care of a GP, what you do in a minute really depends on lots of other things but I’m happy to speak to Charlie because at the end of the day you’ve got to look at what the observations were, that those paramedics were relying on to make the decision.
DK 131 873 is the number to call if you’ve got a question for Joelle Matar from Turner Freeman Lawyers. Telehealth is another one as well, Joelle because in regional areas we know it is often the only option for people and there has been a real boost in funding for telehealth services which is welcome, but who’s responsible for a misdiagnosis because of telehealth when it comes to limitations of remote consultations?
JM I’d say the provider, the service provider. So it’s up to that doctor to ask the right questions, it’s up to that doctor to take an adequate medical history. I understand that physical examination can’t always be possible but you can take adequate history and it all depends again on whether they’ve done all of those things.
DK And the doctors do always say that it is, there are problems associated with complete diagnosis when it is not a physical, when you’re not face to face but telehealth is very useful in a lot of situations isn’t it?
JM It is, especially now with what we’re seeing at the moment with covid, particularly patients who have you know immune compromised systems or you know health conditions where they are particularly vulnerable to infections. It’s essential.
DK Alright, Joelle we thank you for your time.
JM Pleasure, thanks Deb.
DK Joelle Matar there from Turner Freeman Lawyers and they provide a range of specialised legal services including compensation and negligence law, asbestos litigation, superannuation and disability claims, employment law, wills and estates and property law and if you want to get in contact with any of the team at Turner Freeman Lawyers their website turnerfreeman.com.au or just give them a call 13 43 63.