Monday, September 26, 2011

A letter written about a week plus back trying to get some response from the new health minister - no luck - but a friend put to me the idea that if hospitals took as much responsibility in not covering up as the aviation industry does things might improve rather than get worse. A couple of horrific deaths in the weekend's news.

 Dear Editor,
 In 1995 statistics were reported that at least 18,000 Australians died as a result of medical error. None of these deaths would have occurred had there been no error. They were avoidable deaths. As well there were over 300,000 Australians injured, many permanently. It is estimated that in 2011 those sad statistics are much higher due to population increase and the general running down of the Australian public health system.

 Whatever the reasons for so many tragic and avoidable outcomes, whether it’s too long hours, short staffing, laziness, attitude, lack of hygiene or an unaccountable and expensive top heavy bureaucracy, almost without exception the authorities have to be dragged unwillingly to even begin investigation. Investigation is usually begun by grieving and traumatised relatives who have to, often at huge financial and emotional cost drive any investigation by bludgeoning the authorities with evidence they have gathered order to highlight the travesty of medical care which has injured or killed our loved one. Not one other death or injury in any other “system” inside Australia is treated this way.

Compare this to the Aviation Industry and Authorities. Every single incident reported; every accident and certainly every death is meticulously investigated by the authorities. The pilots and company involved will go to great lengths to find the cause, rectify it and ensure it is not repeated and if death or injury is caused then provide justice and compensation for those killed or injured. Imagine the outcry if over 18,000 people were killed per annum in plane crashes within Australia. Imagine that on top of this, over 300,000 people were severely injured, many permanently in these crashes.

 Please explain to me why the deaths caused by plane crashes - or even road accidents – are perceived as more traumatic to relatives than those caused because of the “health” system. The days and weeks of watching those we love brutalised till they are badly maimed or killed as in my husband Don’s case leaves loved ones scarred and traumatised.

Surely the Government, the Health Department, the Health Care Complaints Commission, the Australian Medical Association and the NSW Nurses Association would choose to be at least as responsible and caring as those investigating aviation issues causing death and injury and not act to cover up as they generally do. In 2008 Andrew Stoner, then in Opposition tabled my Petition in NSW Parliament. My Petition signed by 2000 local people asked that an Independent Inquiry be held into the death of my husband Don Mackay as a result of his treatment in a major Sydney Hospital.

In late July 2011 I wrote to Mrs Leslie Williams now MP for Port Macquarie asking for this Independent Investigation. Then in early August I wrote a letter to Ms Jillian Skinner the NSW Health Minister which I spoke about at the NSW Cabinet meeting here in early August in Port Macquarie asking for that investigation and also an investigation into Health Care Complaints Commission’s handling of my husband’s treatment and death. Ms Skinner responded to the Port Macquarie News that there would be no investigation. She told them she would write back to me within the month and respond.

 It is now September 18th and I have heard nothing. Nothing leads me to believe that any improvements have been made and that others have not been killed as my husband was, because nothing has changed from what I can see. The same attitudes prevail and that is the crux of the problem. Without honest investigation the death and injury rate can only climb, and the cost to those such as our family is immeasurable.

1 comment:

FoxyMoron said...

Yep it's a great comparison and very sobering.
Well done and I'm so glad you are still fighting this good fight.