"Western Brown snake bite"

About: Coral Bay Nursing Post Perth Children's Hospital / Emergency Department Princess Margaret Hospital for Children / Emergency Department Royal Flying Doctor Service

(as a parent/guardian),

Our young child was bitten by a Western Brown Snake in Coral Bay earlier this year. While I was extremely thankful to emergency services for saving my little one's life I remained concerned that anti-venom is not being distributed to remote locations.

Responses

Response from Michele Young, Coordinator Executive Services, Executive Services, WACHS - Midwest

picture of Michele Young

Dear learningcx86

Thank you for taking the time to share your experience and your concerns on Patient Opinion. I remember your daughter's story very well and as a mother myself I can only imagine what you and your family were going through when your child was faced with a life threatening situation. The team at Coral Bay really did an amazing job.

Anti-venoms were not as widely distributed in WA in the past because the management of snake bites required pathology to be undertaken before anti venom could be given. Recent research indicate this is not required and that anti-venom can be given based on patient symptoms. Assessment of symptoms needs to be done by trained emergency specialists together with advice from toxicologists. The Emergency Telehealth Service (ETS) has enabled this specialist knowledge to be widely available to WA Country Health Service (WACHS) sites.

I am advised that we have looked at the distribution of anti-venom across our country sites and will have anti-venom available at all WACHS hospitals and nursing posts where there is access to the appropriate medical expertise, by mid-November 2018.

Management of snakebites is complex and research in this area is ongoing. Using anti-venoms is not without risk with some anti-venoms having a 40% risk of allergy and anaphylactic reaction. It’s important to note that anti-venom is only one aspect of the treatment for effective management of snake bites. For many snake bite patients, transport to a tertiary metropolitan hospital will be needed.

Thanks again for taking the time to share your experience. I hope this information assists to alleviate some of your concerns about the availability of anti-venom in country areas. I hope your daughter has recovered well from her ordeal and wish you and your family all the best for the future.

Kind regards

Michele

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