Nearly two years after the death of their young boy, a mother and father from NSW were only recently notified of the cause: failure to recognise and treat sepsis.
Following other reports of sepsis misdiagnosis, what can fellow Australian patients expect from the healthcare system?
Background of the case
On March 21, 2016, Troy Almond woke restless and with a temperature – something his mother treated with paracetamol, but soon after the 18-month vomited.
As the morning drew on, the toddler continued to show signs of distress so his mother drove him to Shoalhaven District Memorial Hospital. Troy was examined before midday where nurses noted he had an elevated heartbeat and temperature. At this time, taking blood samples was the intended course of action. However, as the toddler was later seen by the doctor, Troy's vital signs were not repeated nor were blood tests taken. Instead, the doctor based his assessment on previous recordings. On this basis, he diagnosed the young boy with a possible viral infection.
Just five days after being discharged, Troy became increasingly unwell with diarrhea and vomiting. His condition deteriorated further and an ambulance was called. At the hospital, staff attempted to resuscitate Troy but were unsuccessful in their efforts. At the time, the cause of death was unknown.
In late 2018, a coroner's report was released detailing the manner and cause of Troy's death. Here it was noted that a failure to recognise signs of toxicity caused by possible sepsis and administer antibiotics was to blame. The coroner accepted that his bacterial infection could have been treated and therefore Troy's death was preventable.
Sepsis prevalence in Australia
A report conducted by the Royal North Shore Hospital and The George Institute for Global Health has discovered that sepsis rates in Australia have been significantly underestimated. They found that the incidence of sepsis in Australian intensive care units (ICUs) is 50 per cent higher than previously thought. Furthermore, the mortality rates for patients with sepsis in these units was 10 per cent higher than originally thought – 27 per cent, not 17 per cent.
After discovering the news, medical professionals are calling for dramatic change. In order to lower the mortality rate, early diagnosis and treatment is needed and fast.
If you're dealing with the aftermath of medical negligence, you're not alone. Here at Gerard Malouf & Partners, we can work with you to ensure justice and compensation is fairly served. Get in touch with the team today to see how we can help.