How hours were lost after WWII vet drank cleaning fluid
EMERGENCY crews should have been called as soon as nursing home staff knew a World War II veteran had drunk an unknown amount of toxic cleaning fluid, an inquest was told.
Instead, it took two-and-a-half hours for staff at Lions Haven for the Aged to phone for an ambulance, the Southport Coroner's Court was told.
Coroner James McDougall has been trying to determine what happened when Maxwell Murphy, 88, drank the undiluted cleaning fluid Bacban while in care at the Hope Island nursing home on November 21, 2014.
The former Darwin Defender died three days later in the intensive care unit of Gold Coast University Hospital.
During the first days of the inquest hearing in December last year, the court was told the nursing home's manager Catherine Newman went home about 3pm, 15 minutes after learning of Mr Murphy drinking the poison.
The most junior member of Mr Murphy's care team at Lions Haven, patient care assistant Janelle Preston, told the court that she saw a "half-empty" bottle of Bacban in the war hero's bathroom about 2.30pm and went to superiors for help.
Ms Preston said the registered nurse on duty told her to monitor Mr Murphy who was coughing, complaining of burning and unable to swallow.
About 4pm Mr Murphy was coughing up blood.
An ambulance was not called until 5pm.
Ms Preston said she did not remember being told to call an ambulance when she twice asked her bosses for help.
Since the incident, Ms Preston, who was 21 at the time, has completed training to become a registered nurse.
At the inquest yesterday Ms Preston was asked if she would do anything different if confronted with similar circumstances.
"I would have called an ambulance sooner because he consumed an unknown quantity (of chemicals)," she said.
After Ms Preston gave evidence, Mr Murphy's daughter Rhonnda Willems gave the nurse an emotional thank you for taking care of her father.
Mrs Willems said she did not blame the young nurse.
She tearfully told the inquest yesterday how her father was born to a single mother, signed up to be a Darwin Defender during World War II at just 16, was an active member in the RSL and loved to dance.
She said the lengthy inquest process has taken its toll on the family.
"It's taken four years to get to the inquest and 11 months to get to finish this off," Ms Willems said outside court.
But the inquest is not over.
Mr McDougall said he was awaiting a report from a medical expert in relation to emergency treatment and chemical poisoning.
He said he hoped to finalise the inquest first thing in the new year.