Routine surgery ends in woman’s death

Date: Nov 19, 2019

St. John of God Hospital in Bendigo, Victoria is facing legal action following the death of a women who had routine surgery.

A simple procedure that took a turn

Delphine Murphy visited St. John of God private hospital in February 2016 to have a gallstone removed. The common and non-invasive procedure usually enables patients to be discharged the day after. It was similar to a surgery Murphy had had seven months earlier, but the outcome was not.

A few days post-op, she was in extreme pain. Not only was Murphy struggling to breathe, but her kidneys had begun to shut down and she was experiencing swelling due to 13 kilograms of fluid build-up in her body.

Seven days after the surgery, Murphy was placed in intensive care, barely conscious. Four days later, Murphy’s family made the difficult decision to take their family matriarch off of life support.

Unclean medical equipment to blame

According to the claim made in the Victorian Supreme Court, a piece of medical equipment utilised during the surgery was not properly cleaned. As a result, an infection caused by a rare bug known as Raoultella ornithinolytica led to sepsis, which ultimately killed Murphy.

The family is now suing for medical negligence, stating that the hospital did not follow the rigorous disinfection protocol of the duodenoscope that is necessary 12 hours prior to the surgery. Instead, the instrument hadn’t been cleaned in 48 hours.

The Murphy family, Delphine’s three children and husband, are also suing for nervous shock, loss of earnings and earning capacity, and psychological trauma.

St. John of God opted not to comment until the allegations by the Murphy family have been reviewed.

The case will be listed for hearing in the Victorian Supreme Court.

How to prevent healthcare-related infections

It is a medical facility’s duty – as well as the duty of medical practitioners – to utilise necessary protocols to avoid healthcare-related infections. Some of those procedures include:

  • Ensuring the healthcare environment and equipment is clean.
  • Frequent and correct hand hygiene exercises by both staff and patients.
  • Following infection control procedures and policies.
  • Complying with routine sterile techniques during surgery, wound care or when inserting and adjusting medical devices, like catheters or cannulas.
  • Using antibiotics to prevent and treat infections.

Do you have a medical negligence claim you’d like assistance with? Gerard Malouf and Partners can help.

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