9 Dec 2009

Names of hospital staff suppressed in inquest

10:21 pm on 9 December 2009

A coroner has granted widespread suppressions for Christchurch Hospital staff who misdiagnosed a man with back pain when he had a fatal spinal infection.

Dean Carroll's fiancee Victoria Milne took him to the hospital after his back pain became intolerable. The 25-year-old was sent home with painkillers and died 12 hours later.

Mr Carroll's family pushed for the Coronial inquiry, despite the the Health and Disability Commissioner having already examined the incident.

The Commissioner asked the hospital to apologise for failing to give Mr Carroll proper care, which was due to the hospital being understaffed.

Mr Carroll's mother, Sheree Carroll, told medical staff at the inquest that they had deprived her son of his life.

Mrs Carroll sobbed throughout a security video that was played to the court, showing her son in obvious pain in the hospital waiting room.

She says one nurse was particularly rude and asked why that nurse didn't tell her help was on its way.

Ms Milne told the Coroner she was frustrated by the treatment Mr Carroll received, saying she was unhappy with the way one nurse dealt with them as they arrived.

She said the nurse was very dismissive and made an assumption he was over-reacting, without appearing to have looked at his condition.

Nurse sobs while apologising

A nurse giving evidence sobbed as she apologised to Mr Carroll's family and partner.

She is one of the many medical professionals who have interim name suppression while the inquest is heard.

She saw Mr Carroll in the emergency department and helped to assess what treatment was needed.

In giving her evidence, she told the Carroll family she was distressed and saddened to hear of his death.

She said since it happened she had thought long and hard about what signs she missed that could have alerted her to how sick he really was.

She said as a mother and as a sister, she understood the family's loss.

Forensic pathologist Professor Martin Sage told the Coroner that he could not be certain that more extensive treatment in hospital would have picked up the infection before it was too late.

The hospital has since made major improvements to its emergency department.