Sally Gleeson providing Q & A on medical malpractice issues
Tuesday, 5 June 2018
CS – Chris Smith/SG – Sally Gleeson /C1,2,3, etc – Callers
CS Now as I was watching various news programs last night, there was one story in particular that did shock me. It was on Nine News I think it was. You would have seen the story about baby Declan Campbell who almost lost his life earlier this year. Not because of a serious injury, not because of a disease, but because a doctor gave him the wrong injection. Now Declan was taken to Nepean Hospital’s Emergency Department in Sydney’s West by his mother after he fell from his cot. Staff wanted to do a CT scan, but because of Declan’s age, he needed to be sedated. Instead of sedating him, the doctor injected him with a drug that causes short term paralysis. Now as a result of all of that the hospital has been forced to apologise and are planning to meet with Declan’s family. But you’ve got to wonder how often this sort of mistake happens and if something like this happens to you, or someone in your family apart from screaming the joint down, what do you do? Where do you take it? Who do you take it to? What kind of redress can occur? And how much of your life is just going to take up? That’s the most important thing. You don’t want to spend the next 10 years trying to seek some kind of justice for what was a crook and badly selected injection but this is part of what we’ll discuss today in our Legal Matters Segment. It’s all courtesy of Turner Freeman Lawyers and once again I’ve got a $100 Westfield Voucher I’ll give away in the next 20 minutes. $100 from Westfield and Turner Freeman to give to one of our callers. 131 873 is the telephone number for free advice and just reminding you Turner Freeman Lawyers provide a range of specialised legal services including compensation and negligence law, asbestos litigation, superannuation and disability claims, family and employment law, Wills and estates and property law. Now the NSW offices are in Sydney, Parramatta, Campbelltown, Penrith, Newcastle and Wollongong and their Queensland offices are in Brisbane, Logan, North Lakes, Ipswich, Toowoomba, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and Cairns. If you’ve got a medical question on you know – medical law – medical negligence and maybe even across some of the territory that Declan’s case concerns which is a bad injection or even a bad prescription. Give us a call on 131 873 as I say, free advice and we don’t bite. It’s an easy process – you just tell us the basic facts and Sally Gleeson, Partner in the Turner Freeman Sydney office who specialises in medical negligence litigation will do her best to give you a tip as to what your next move may be. Now Sally has close to 20 years experience in medical negligence cases and has been ranked by Doyle’s Guide as a Leader in the field of medical law and Sally is quite happy to take your calls on 131 873. She joins me in the studio. Thank you very much for coming in.
SG Thanks Chris.
CS How on earth could such a huge mistake happen? And I don’t know the procedures in any average hospital but I would have thought if you’re about to use an injection, you’ve either got to write down what you’re seeing on the vile or you’ve got to have someone double check what you are about to administer or there’s got to be some kind of checking process and yet in Declan’s case, there may have been a checking process, but even the checking process failed.
SG It’s one thing to have a process and protocols and procedures but you’ve obviously got to adhere to them and in this situation, Declan, a young child was about to be sedated for the purpose of having a CT scan which usually happens with children and the syringe containing the medication that he was supposed to be given was sitting very closely next to this syringe of medication that was not meant for him and so this doctor picked up the wrong syringe and unfortunately administered the medication to Declan.
CS So it had already been loaded into the intravenous part of the needle?
SG That’s my understanding. So the tray contained both and the doctor inadvertently picked up the wrong syringe. So here, it appears to me without knowing the full facts that number 1 –protocol procedure policy wasn’t followed as in, in the first place that shouldn’t have been allowed to have occurred – you shouldn’t have a situation where that’s present in a metal tray.
CS I know…….
SG And obviously Declan was affected.
CS And it wasn’t as if the other you know vile was full of Nurofen or something, it was a paralysis drug that gave him short term paralysis. What compensation has the family been given? Do you know?
SG Well I think it just happened in February – so I don’t think the family have been – you know – they haven’t pursued that aspect of the case or if they have, that obviously hasn’t come to an end.
CS How common are they? Those mistakes?
SG Oh – very common. I think about a month ago was the very most recent case that I resolved for a woman in her 80s who suffered more adverse outcome than little Declan. I mean the elderly and the young are mostly affected by prescription errors because they are more vulnerable, they are more fragile and they are more susceptible to the response that these medication errors are likely to trigger.
CS Yes – yes.
SG So in this case of Declan. I understand that Declan has fully recovered and that’s tremendous.
CS Good news. Alright. 131 873 is the telephone number. Joy on the Sunshine Coast has a question for you Sally. Sally is listening Joy – go right ahead.
Caller 1 – Joy
Joy Hi Sally.
SG Hi Joy.
Joy* I’m just wondering, my husband had an MRI within ………….48 hours in his shoulder – had a needle and within 48 hours he was in hospital with golden staph – had countless washouts of his shoulder; in hospital for 4 weeks hooked up to some kind of antibiotic; come home, he had a month where we had to have the nurse come every day and change the bottle which was $108 for the bottle and $150 for the nurse. Now, we have rung up the practice and we’ve given them the opportunity to re-pay us what we are out of pocket, which is thousands and failing that we said we’d get legal advice.
CS But what about the suffering Joy? The suffering he went through.
Joy Unreal. Unreal.
SG Joy, how’s your husband now?
Joy He’s fine now but after he had all of this he got some time rheumatoid something else caused by…….. wait and I’ll tell you the name of it….. he had polymyaglia rheumatica.
SG As a result of the golden staph? after the infection what happened?
Joy And then he couldn’t take anything for that because he was taking the other things. So anyway he’s finally right. But in the midst of all of this which is heartbreaking, we had a daughter get married and you know – it was just disaster. It really was. Now it should not happen in today’s world should it?
SG No I agree totally with you. Has the …….. I’m assuming you are talking about a radiology clinic or a radiology practice?
Joy Yes, yes.
SG Have they conducted an investigation into what happened to your husband Joy?
Joy Yes – they are in the process of – because I said to them all we want was reimbursement because we are thousands of dollars out of pocket for it.
CS But Sally, Joy and her husband are short changing themselves because they have been through a great deal of suffering. It’s not just what they are out of pocket from.
SG Out of pocket is one of the things that your husband can claim – the other thing is pain and suffering whether it is short lived or long lived, he suffered and he was in pain. If I asked your husband, he’d tell me that it has affected him in some permanent way no doubt. Whether it be physically or psychiatrically. I’m very glad to hear he has recovered. We need to understand exactly what happened. A lot of people assume that by virtue of medical error, someone is entitled to compensation. Unfortunately, medical negligence law is very complex. It’s difficult. I understand what you are saying and obviously this shouldn’t have happened, but we need to understand how it happened. What did they not adhere to? How did it come to pass since your husband’s shoulder from the needle? How is it that it was transmitted? What were their infection policies and protocols? All these things are very important. They will have policies and protocols about all of these things and obviously someone missed something along the line so I’d like to look at the investigation and I’d be very happy to help you. I can articulate it and put it into words for you and claim some of those expenses back plus something on top.
CS Joy. How about you get in contact with Sally. We can give you the number?
Joy Yes that’s right. I’ve got a pen here.
CS Okay – I’ll put you back to [Hansel] and she will tell you the numbers for Turner Freeman Lawyers. If we can do something about that. What about time? How long has Joy got to act or is there a time?
SG Time is more fluid than it used to be. As at December 2002, you have three years from the time that it was discovered that you may have had a claim. So, assuming that it happened in the last 4 or 5 years, generally speaking – broadly speaking, time is more fluid that it used to be.
CS But you’ve got to move when it happens and you understand what has occurred. Peter in Wollongong. Go ahead. Sally is listening.
Caller 2 – Peter
Peter Hello. How are you?
SG Hi Peter.
Peter Hi. My partner had severe medical…… she’s in hospital and got her cervix removed and 2 years later they sent her a letter saying that she didn’t have pap smears done or anything like that. So by chance, she went in to see her doctor and the doctor said that her cervix is still there.
SG Sorry I missed what you said at the beginning Peter. I couldn’t quite hear you. She had her cervix removed and 2 years later what happened sorry?
Peter The hospital sent her a letter saying that she won’t require any pap smears.
Peter And by chance, she went to her doctor and just had a checkup and the doctor said that she still has a cervix.
SG And what did the doctor say about that?
Peter Well he just ……. I don’t know……. he just wrote out a letter saying that she still has one and she hasn’t had a pap smear for 2 years.
SG Okay. And I mean obviously that’s a bit shocking. Who knows what happened and why it happened. Has she seen her specialist? Has she gone back to the person who …………
Peter No. She hasn’t…. no she hasn’t.
SG Okay so this is a specialist. An obstetrician gynaecologist who so called performed a cervical……..
SG Okay. What I suggest is that she goes back to that person to find out what happened and to obtain a copy of her clinical records. It’s really really important. I obviously don’t want to go on air about why that was needed but why that was needed was important and obviously your understanding of what should have happened is different to what happened. So we need to look at the clinical records and I think your partner needs to go back and seek a consultation with that original specialist and find out exactly what happened – as in get some answers first.
CS Yes. And Peter why don’t you go ahead and make that step and then we can give you a number to call and maybe you’d like to catch up with Sally after that process has been gone through.
Peter Yep – Okay
CS Okay – stay right there and we’ll give you the number. We’ve got to take a break, now if you’re in Queensland you would want to contact Turner Freeman, you can do so via the website of turnerfreeman.com.au, but in Queensland 13 43 63. In NSW, 1300 698 263 – 1300 698 263. In Croydon, Zak go ahead. Sally is listening from Turner Freeman Lawyers.
Caller 3 – Zak
Zak Yes – hi Sally.
SG Hi Zak.
Zak Sally. I went to a dentist for a pain that I actually had and one other tooth that I suspected I actually did point that out to her. But going in, she misdiagnosed the wrong tooth and we ended up extracting that tooth. Now is there anything I could do in relation to that?
CS The wrong tooth was taken out?
Zak The wrong tooth.
SG Did she…. It’s a she is it? You said she?
Zak Yes it was. Yes.
SG Okay and did she conduct an x-ray of your teeth before she decided to take your………
Zak Yes she did. Because what had happened was it’s more or less that I had root canal that I needed on that tooth that I suspected.
Zak And it didn’t show up at that particular time.
SG And when you confronted her about the wrong tooth being removed, what was her response?
Zak Well she didn’t give me a response. She more or less just denied the whole thing and that it could have been the actual tooth. I’m sort of in a dilemma as to what we can take it to.
SG Okay. So I need to meet with you and find out exactly what happened. Normally, you need your teeth, that’s why you’ve got your teeth and if we are talking about a molar or a back tooth it affects the function of the other teeth, your bite, the way you chew. So, it’s a vital component of your mouth. So I’m very happy to look into it and find out whether we can help you.
SG Clearly there might be an avenue there.
Zak Thank you for that.
CS Zak stay right there, we’ll put you back through to Hansel and make sure that you get in contact. Anne in Summer Hill. Go ahead.
Caller 4 – Anne
Anne Hi. I went in for a routine colonoscopy in 2015 and they found a tumour which it ended up being benign, but in removing that they perforated my bowel and when since then I have been in total arm and it has turned my life around. I have had to give up work. I had a quite – you know – I worked in the medical industry actually and I can’t – you know – I can’t got out because they put a stoma liker colostomy bag which didn’t work. I was in hospital – on my file – they have to carry around in a cart. Backwards and forwards because I got totally dehydrated. And they.
CS And what are you doing about it Anne?
Anne Well I haven’t done anything about it. But you know – I mean I can’t – if I go out – I have to be home for a certain amount of time because the frequency of…… because I’ve got very little bowel left. So I can’t go out for a night out or a day out – I’ve got to try and – how long it’s going to take me to get home so…….
SG I’m very sorry to hear about that Anne. I’ve done many perforated bowel cases – they are complicated cases because we have to look at the anatomy – we have to look and see what the colorectal surgeon was doing down there – how he was navigating and what the area looked like. So, what I need to do is look at the operation report and the records about that precise procedure and find out whether the perforation should have been avoided.
CS Yeah – you need to go one step further on this Anne. Given the suffering you’ve been through and the change that it’s made to your life. How about we put you on hold. Oh firstly, I’ll give you the $100 Westfield Voucher Anne.
Anne Thank you.
CS That’s okay. Very small consolation but thanks to Turner Freeman you’ll get the Westfield $100 Voucher. Thank you. We’ll put Anne through to Hansel and get her the number. Now, I can probably take one more call. Darryl from Lithgow. Try and make it quick if you can Darryl.
Caller 5 – Darryl
Darryl I’ll do it as quick as I can for you.
SG Hi Darryl.
Darryl Hi. How are you going?
Darryl Um. Look my friend had a stroke. She had a stroke in the car going out to the local hospital. I just …………… because I am a trained nurse practitioner……. she’s also a registered nurse….. spent three quarters of her life doing voluntary rescue work as well. So we got out there and they said they weren’t quite sure when she had the stroke because she had been having like TOAs (?) over the two weeks prior to it. Now, she was transferred to a tertiary hospital from the local hospital in the patient transport vehicle with no nurse in the back – the nurse was supposed to be in the back with her was driving the vehicle – the other nurse that was driving the vehicle was in the passenger side. Subsequent she got to this tertiary hospital and sent to CAS. She was in CAS for 3 days. They were saying it was all behavioural problems…..I said look at her blood pressure. Her blood pressure was excessively high. There was a problem causing and she was moaning, groaning This is not my friend, this is not the person that I know.
CS Okay Darryl. I’ve now run out of time. What we need to do is probably deal with your case or the case of your friend off air if we can and whether that means that Sally will meet with you to talk about the case or whether she can give you some advice. We’ll see how that pans out but thank you very much for phoning in. Sally Gleeson. You’ve been inundated today. Thank you very much for your company.
SG Thanks Chris.
CS Yeah – good stuff. Sally Gleeson from Turner Freeman Lawyers.