Monday, 1 July 2013

DHB admits poor care in elderly death

The Northland District Health Board admits the care of an elderly man who died following knee surgery at Whangarei Hospital was inadequate, following the release of a report slamming his treatment.

The Health and Disability Commissioner pointed a finger at both the nursing team and orthopedic specialists, following the investigation into the death of the 75-year-old, who died in 2009.

The man had been admitted to hospital for total knee joint replacement, an operation that was carried out successfully, leaving him in good health.

However, in the days afterwards the man's blood pressure dropped, and he failed to pass urine, a strong indicator of a problem.

Nursing staff recognized the issue but failed to pass on the information to the orthopedic team or other staff who cared for the man in the following days.

Orthopedic staff also failed to inform nurses of other conditions the man suffered that made his case high-risk.

The miscommunication was released four days after the Operation, but only shortly before the man died from cardiac and respiratory Arrest.

In a decision published on Monday, commissioner Anthony Hill Blamed staff for "poor communication, inadequate documentation, and the Widespread failure of the nursing team to consistently comply with relevant Procedures, which compromised the man's right to continuity of care."

Northland DHB said it "profoundly regrets" the incident and accepts that the care was "not to a high enough standard".

The DHB has apologized to the man's family.

Mr Hill made several recommendations in the report aimed at improving the level of care, all of which the DHB says have already been introduced.

"This sad case has led to many changes within the hospital," chief medical officer Dr Mike Roberts said.

"Standards of quality and safety within the organization are much higher now."

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