Toddler's painful treatment delay
PARENTS of a three-year-old boy who were told by Warwick Hospital staff they would have to wait more than 24 hours for a fracture specialist couldn’t bear their child’s screams of pain and drove him to Brisbane in the early hours of Thursday morning.
After spending three hours waiting and being X-rayed here on Wednesday, Tanya Langdon and Jason Munce faced the wait for a specialist to see their “hysterical” son Lincoln’s suspected broken arm after falling off a toy box.
“He was unsettled and in so much pain after being up there for three hours, we were told to make an appointment for 2.30pm (yesterday) at the Warwick fracture clinic and to go home,” Ms Langdon said.
“He was absolutely screaming when we got home, we put him to sleep for a few hours but he was in agony,” Mr Munce added. “By that stage it had blown up like a cricket ball on his elbow, I rang the Mater Children’s Hospital in Brisbane who said to come in so I rang my boss and said I’m not coming in, put him in the car at 2.30am and took off.”
The Sladevale couple were in and out of the Mater in two hours, with Lincoln’s arm in a half slab of plaster with a suggested hairline fracture.
The worried parents did not blame Warwick Hospital staff, who they said “could only do what they could with lots of patients, understaffed and under-resourced” but something was “seriously wrong with the public health system”.
“If a hospital servicing 22,000 people can’t deal with a basic fracture, it has me worried – it’d be nothing for my 75-year-old father to fall over and break a hip, I’ll take him straight to Brisbane or Toowoomba,” Ms Langdon said.
Mr Munce said the ordeal wasn’t over for young Lincoln, with an appointment on Tuesday at Toowoomba’s fracture clinic to confirm if the Buzz Lightyear fan would need a pin in his arm.
“We might have to go back to the Mater for an operation, they were quite disgusted Warwick Hospital left a child like that so they referred us to Toowoomba,” he said.
“I was prepared for them to say we overreacted by driving him to Brisbane but we both started to cry when they told us it was fractured and we’d done the right thing.”
Their tears turned to laughter yesterday as their little boy started singing the Humpty Dumpty nursery rhyme and they couldn’t help but chuckle at the irony.
“If Warwick Hospital knew they didn’t have anyone qualified when we first arrived they should have just told us to take him to Toowoomba, but to leave him in limbo for 24 hours...” Ms Langdon said.
“We were told the Warwick fracture clinic was only open Thursdays so if he had broken his arm on a Friday he’d have to have waited six days or go somewhere else.
“You have faith in your doctors and do what they say, but all we knew was our little boy was in pain so we had to do something.”
“At the time of being discharged from the Mater it still would have been eight hours ’til his Warwick fracture clinic appointment – far too long for a three-year-old boy to be in severe pain,” Ms Langdon said.
The couple said after telling their friends of their ordeal, they have learnt they are not alone in facing similar circumstances.
“While it might be common in Warwick for people to wait hours to be seen, treated and go home, that doesn’t make it right – something needs to be done,” Ms Langdon said.
“The health system is failing Warwick dismally, it is dangerous and life threatening.”
Darling Downs-West Moreton Health Service District CEO Pam Lane told the Daily News “the patient received treatment appropriate to their condition”.
“The Warwick Hospital Emergency Department was also appropriately staffed at the time and was able to commence treatment in less than one hour,” Ms Lane said.
“There was no issue with the number, clinical expertise or competence of staff.”
Ms Lane said it was important to reiterate that patients often need to be kept in the ED because they were under observation, awaiting test or X-ray results that will enable doctors to make a clinical decision about whether they need to be admitted.
“Queensland Health endeavours to attend to children as soon as possible,” she said.
Queensland Health advised the average wait for Category One patients (those most urgent) across the state was less than a minute and the average wait across all five categories was 44 minutes.
“Warwick Hospital’s fracture clinic carries out follow-up treatment for patients previously diagnosed and treated in the emergency department,” Ms Lane said.
“The clinic is staffed by a doctor and a nurse and is open one afternoon each week. Warwick Hospital also employs six Senior Medical Officers.”