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Failure to provide adequate urgent care at a medical centre

Deputy Health and Disability Commissioner Meenal Duggal today released a report finding a nurse in breach of the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights (the Code) for failing to adequately assess a patient who attended a medical centre. She also criticised the care provided by a different nurse to the same patient; the medical centre; and the doctor who saw the patient.

In 2017 a woman with asthma sought urgent assistance from a medical centre as she had a cough and shortness of breath. The woman was not enrolled at the medical centre.

Ms Duggal said that the first nurse to see the woman failed to comply with the medical centre’s Triage Policy, which required her to assess the patient immediately. She did not assess and triage the woman accurately and was not alert to her deteriorating condition. Ms Duggal found that this nurse breached Right 4(1) of the Code.

Ms Duggal was also critical of a second nurse who placed the woman’s well-being at risk by treating her for hyperventilation with a paper bag over her mouth when she was having an asthma attack.

Ms Duggal criticised the doctor who saw the woman, for failing to remove the paper bag before beginning his assessment. She also made adverse comment about the medical centre for its failure to ensure that emergency medicine was current, as a subsequent delay to administer current medication placed the woman at greater risk.

After Ms Duggal sent her provisional opinion, the first nurse provided HDC with a written apology for the deficiencies in the care she provided. The medical centre also provided HDC with an audit compliance of the monthly checks of medication, and with evidence that all nursing staff have received further training.

The full report for case 17HDC00067 is on the HDC website.


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