‘Can pain kill you?’ teen’s final words after he was turned away from NSW hospital

Was reading this
And my heart became so heavy. I cannot imagin the pain of their parents, the moments the mother was waiting for the airplane to come to collect her dying young son and the Dad reading google search his late son left ‘can pain kill you?! ‘
I really cannot understand how this can happen in today's Australia and not a casuing a big coverage, as if we are so used to it. No politician or offcials would lose their job let along be prosecuted ……


  • This sounds like a cluster of mess ups and the swiss cheese model.

    Triage nurses discouraged from taking vitals because of "business rules"? Are you serious? If the patient didn't look right (and surely he didn't), he should have gotten vitals checked.

    the first few times of being sent away, I don't fault the clinicians for. If the knee looked fine, and he was a young fit adult who was physically active… it's not a far stretch to associate it with a musculoskeletal injury. The time when it went purple though, that's inexcusable. At least he was attended to properly then. I certainly hope that while he was waiting for transfer, he had appropriate IV antibiotics on board, with central access and vasopressors as required…

    To get a septic joint from presumably his toenail infection… that's pretty bad luck.

    If he was as sick as they made him seem… I would have expected not only the nursing staff, but the medical student, to have alerted senior medical staff. It's not clear if his happened, or if they were running a full resus on him and the student was tasked with the cannula.

    In busy emergency departments, it can be difficult to find beds and wheelchairs. They're simply all allocated to a patient already.

    Category 3s should be seen in a timely fashion, but this article makes it seem like the 30 minute advice is largely adhered to. In reality, only the category 1s and USUALLY the category 2s, get seen in their appropriate times (i.e. immediately, within 10 minutes). The category 3s, 4s, and 5s, often have their wait times blow out because the 1s and 2s don't stop coming, and there is a lack of available staff/beds/resources to see everyone simultaneously. If he was deteriorating though, he should have been up-triaged (which is not rare), or should have been flagged to the senior medical staff on duty. The average category 3-5 in my hospital usually has a wait time of 2-3hours or more. Compounding this is that a lot of patients should be triaged to lower categories, but are sometimes "up-triaged" because it's triage staff are unclear as to how sick they are, and it's easier to make them not quite a 2, but also not a 4 or 5, so that "the doctor will see them faster"; this blows out your category 3 wait times, because the sheer number of them can become insurmountable.

    The flight hours thing is unfortunately a very real thing. Some nights you'll have excess, some you won't have any staff to transfer and your critically unwell patients can't move. It's up to the treating team to allay to flight control the seriousness of the patient's sickness, and try to keep them alive until transfer is available (usually non-criticals wait until morning when it's safe for transfers to happen… crashes do occur). Sometimes it's just bad luck and no transfers can occur because the staff are maxed out.

    tl;dr, this case clearly needs a root cause analysis. There are some obvious deficits with hospital management/policy, potentially the staff/training, bad luck with the presenting complaint or history provided, and bad luck with pilot hours.

  • In my experience, the reality is that the doctors want to live in the cities.
    I've lived in Sydney for 20 year, and if I needed a Doctor, I could rock up to a Medical Clinic and see a Dr straight away,
    or I could, at worst call the 13SICK number, and have a Doctor at my house in 3-4hours. (I've done both of these.)

    I'm currently living in a rural city of around 50,000 people. If I want to see a Doctor, I need to book about two weeks ahead.
    (Unless I go to the hospital and wait in triage for 4-6 hours.)
    There is absolutely a shortage of medical staff in the country areas, and I'm sure if the Broken Hill Hospital, and every other
    rural hospital had more Doctors, these types of tragedies wouldn't occur so often.

    • +3 votes

      It's not just living in rural areas that people dislike, but also working in rural areas.

    • Unfortunately, that's just the way it is for a sparsely populated country - once you're out of the densely populated areas then the cost of providing any kind of service goes up or becomes more complex. Post Office doubles up as a bank, community service providers also act as an agent for Services Australia etc. Nevermind things we took for granted like internet access and healthcare providers.

      Went on a wine trip couple of years ago and there's this rural doctor in his late 70's, he nearly had to miss the trip as he struggled to find a locum from the bigger city to go and look after his practice while he's on a break. On that note, he said as long as he can keep treating patients then he will keep practicing as he can't find anyone to take over the practice.

    • In my experience, the reality is that the doctor's partner want to live in the city and pursue their own career.

  • I really cannot understand how this can happen in today's Australia and not a casuing a big coverage, as if we are so used to it.

    We need a doctor for every emergency that ever ocurs.

    When we have a shortage of doctors, we need to impose immediate lockdown on risky behaviour. Roads should be declared off limits until the doctors are free to treat patients again.

    Likewise we should ban all outdoor concerts if we dont have enough doctors on hand to meet the possible overdoses.

    We could also send Journalists out to treat patients as well, they always are telling us whats wrong, so they should know the answers.

    And we should fire all business analysts who get the predictions wrong, that way they will be more careful in their predictions.

    BTW skip all the enquiries and employ more medical staff with the funds.

    And retrain the police, defence forces and SES to be back up medical staff.

    Then, if we cant get enough staff we retrain all the Lawyers, Politicians and Political staffers.

    And finally shut down Canberra and move the Public servants out to the regions where they can be employed to treat anyone who needs it.

    All so simple, why cant we just do it?


  • What this article got to do with Ozbargain ?