Coroner says hospital missed fatal disease symptoms

Date: Aug 20, 2014

A coroner’s recent ruling from Queensland has highlighted the deadly consequences of misdiagnosing a serious medical condition.

The Queensland State Coroner’s decision has implications right across the country and illustrates the importance of medical professionals getting diagnoses correct before it is too late.

Nearly four years ago, Thomas Andrew Olive, aged 4, died in Nambour Hospital from a rare metabolic gene mutation which caused a muscle-destroying disorder called rhabdomyolysis. However, his parents claimed that medical staff at the hospital had failed to pick up the symptoms after taking Thomas to seek treatment a number of times previously.

At the coronial inquest, held earlier this year, the court learnt that Thomas had a sore knee and that it quickly spread to other parts of his body. He was both lethargic and very red when his parents called the ambulance.

On arrival to the hospital, Thomas’ condition deteriorated and despite the best efforts of staff could not be revived.

While the Deputy State Coroner John Lock stopped short of blaming individuals for the death, he said there was evidence of poor communication and that there were a number of missed opportunities to potentially diagnose the condition.

“This is not the first case I have been involved in where similar issues have arisen and recent media has highlighted concerns about widespread failures to review thousands of X-ray results at another hospital in southeast Queensland,” Mr Lock said, reported by the Brisbane Times.

“It should not require a policy for obvious good sensible practice to occur.”

The disease has reportedly caused the deaths of other children around the world, but this is the first reported case in Australia. Mr Lock said this did have an impact on the behaviour of staff, but chances were missed to properly diagnose Thomas’ condition.

NSW Medical negligence compensation

Patients that do not improve after medical treatment or advice and feel doctors have neglected their duty of care could be eligible for medical negligence compensation and are urged to contact a lawyer who can help them with their claim.

The compensation can cover any loss of wages or payments as well as payment for any additional medical costs.

As medical negligence compensation is a complex situation, it is best to take your claim directly to a lawyer. It is also important to record anything that could help your claim. If your negligence lawyer can have access to all relevant information, you are more likely to be successful in your case.

Call us now on 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment with one of my compensation experts, or email your enquiry.