Two major Sydney hospitals have been implicated in the death of 8-year-old Jacob Belim in 2009, with the coroners court hearing today (August 16, 2011) that a series of system failures may have been entirely preventable.
The young boy was initially presented First Care Medical Centre in Busby where a GP diagnosed him – correctly – as suffering from a ruptured appendix and promptly called for an ambulance.
The emergency vehicle transported the young boy to Liverpool Hospital – but the driver was unaware that the facility lacked the necessary equipment to perform pediatric operations.
On arrival, the GP's letter of referral was disregarded by the emergency department registrar, who diagnosed the boy's distress as resulting from an obstructed bowel.
Jacob Belim's mother Yvonne repeatedly asked for her son to receive an ultrasound to determine the cause of his symptoms – which included fever, nausea and vomiting – but the medical personnel told her to "get an ultrasound out of your mind".
Speaking on the decision of medical staff to not carry out an ultrasound, acting state coroner Scott Mitchell asserted: "I cannot see how [they] could have failed to see that Jacob was significantly ill and that the requirement of surgery was extremely urgent."
Seven hours after arriving at Liverpool Hospital, the young boy was transported to Westmead Childrens Hospital – a move that the magistrate said should have been ordered hours before.
It was another five hours before the young boy – who by this stage was screaming with pain and suffering from dehydration – was entered into surgery.
After finally receiving treatment, Jacob’s anesthetist said that she thought he had responded well to the operation and would not require intensive care – a decision the coroner disagreed with.
Magistrate Mitchell stated that that the boy's obvious condition should have meant he received constant monitoring by hospital staff.
By the next day it became obvious that Jacob was in a "critical and perilous" medical condition. He received emergency surgery at 02:30 but died on the operating table on March 28, 2009.
Mr and Mrs Belim are understood to be planning civil actions against the hospitals involved.
Anyone planning to take this type of civil action is likely to benefit from the expert assistance of medical negligence lawyers.
An experienced team of compensation lawyers can help support victims of medical negligence by providing them with trusted advice on their legal options.