7 Jul 2015

Hospital under fire over paraplegic woman's care

9:29 am on 7 July 2015

A hospital formally criticised after a woman became a paraplegic in its care, is now under fire for its ongoing treatment of her.

hospital bed

Photo: 123rf

The woman's family said the equipment used was "rubbish" and unsafe - and the staff did not know what they were doing.

The complaint follows a case where clinicians were found to not have done enough to escalate care for the woman who was 59 when she arrived at Palmerston North Hospital with back pain in 2011.

The hospital has already said it was "very likely" the woman might have still been walking had she been transferred to the orthopaedic department sooner.

Mid-Central District Health Board was berated by the Health and Disability Commissioner and the consultant who got most of the blame for the patient's poor care has gone back home to the United States.

Now the patient's family is critical of the way the hospital is looking after her.

Relatives said the equipment used, such as hoists and slings, was "rubbish" and unsafe. They said a sling on the ward was frayed, so the patient had to bring her own.

And they said when staff could be found to operate the equipment, they didn't know how to use it.

The complaint ended with the claim that some staff "couldn't give a damn".

The patient had also had some care at Wellington Hospital and surgeons there were said to be disgraced by what the woman was still going through at Palmerston North Hospital.

National support group Disability Action said patients should expect the same high level of care whichever hospital they go to.

It has expressed extreme surprise and concern about the case.

Disability Action said if the woman was being cared for in a hospital, she needed to be looked after by fully trained staff who knew how to use specialised equipment.

The Mid Central District Health Board's chief medical officer Kenneth Clark said the hospital was in constant contact with family members and tried to provide them with everything they would need.