"Whooping cough, negligence"

About: Joondalup Health Campus / Emergency Department

(as a parent/guardian),

At 6 weeks of age, my child had a series of apneas where they went blue and lost muscle tone. We took them to Joondalup Hospital. They were tested for a range of conditions, kept for overnight assessment and monitoring, then sent home the following day. We were told if they had more apneas to return and that they would contact us if any of the test results came back positive. The apneas continued so we returned to Joondalup Hospital. More testing was conducted and my infant started on a course of medication to treat whooping cough. Two days in a row our infant was administered an overdose of the medication - they were given 10mls. At the time I mentioned to the administering nurse that it looked like a lot. They said that it did look like a lot and was almost a whole bottle. On the third day, when the rostered nurse brought their medication it was only 0.1mls. A few hours later the doctors came to notify us that our infant had received two overdoses and that they had contacted toxicology to make sure that no further interventions or treatment would be necessary.  The medication was to be stopped immediately because of the overdoses. They also told us that the test for whooping cough had come back negative so my infant would not need that medication anyway. Tests came back with viral meningitis and paraflu. We were discharged on a Friday afternoon with a pamphlet about CPR and a referral to the monitoring clinic at PMH and an urgent request for a breathing monitor. The doctor who discharged us said we should look on Gumtree for a cheap breathing monitor in the meantime. When PMH contacted us on the Monday, they made an urgent appointment that same day, to provide the breathing monitor and CPR training. They advised me that Joondalup Hospital should not have discharged us until a breathing monitor was secured and that it was their procedure to come to the hospital and provide overnight training with the monitor so that we could confidently use it at home.

Our infant had a persistent cough, and when we went for our ambulant appointment, more investigations were conducted including a chest X-ray and a trial course of medication for silent reflux. The X-ray showed what was originally thought to be a diaphragmatic hernia. Further investigations at PMH showed this to be an error with the X-ray and that there was nothing in their diaphragm or oesophagus. However, my infant's cough persisted. They had another series of apneas, so we returned to Joondalup Health Campus. More tests were conducted. Eventually, it came to light that on our first two admissions, our infant had never been tested for whooping cough. Only on our third admission did they do the test, and it was found that the DNA for whooping cough was present in their system. After 3 months, their cough subsided and no more apneas occurred. All investigations ceased as all medical professionals attributed the cough and apneas to our infant having had whooping cough. 

On multiple occasions, we were told by staff at Joondalup Hospital that our infant’s test results for whooping cough had come back as negative when in all actuality they had never been tested. Our infant was administered two overdoses on the medication that could have resolved their condition and thus was denied the right to fair and adequate treatment. And we were not supplied with the knowledge or support to manage our infant’s condition. 

Responses

Response from Kempton Cowan, Chief Executive Officer, Joondalup Health Campus

Dear velayk95

Thank you for bringing this to our attention via Patient Opinion. I wish to personally apologise for your experience and appreciate this must have been an extremely anxious and distressing situation for you and your family. It concerned me greatly to read your experience and I want you to know that I’ve already had discussions with our clinical staff about your story. I am relieved to hear that your child is now doing well.

I wish to assure you that we are taking this extremely seriously and we require some more information to investigate your complaint thoroughly. I would be very grateful if you would contact us directly so we can discuss your concerns further. Please contact our Consumer Liaison Service on (08) 9400 9672 or consumerliaison.jhc@ramsayhealth.com.au.

Thank you again for sharing your story.

Kempton Cowan

Chief Executive Officer

Joondalup Health Campus

  • {{helpful}} {{helpful == 1 ? "person thinks" : "people think"}} this response is helpful

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