Dawn Trevitt, 66, bled to death in the emergency room of a regional hospital after personal doctors were replaced with family doctors who showed up via video link
A woman bled to death in the emergency room of a regional hospital after personal doctors were replaced with a video-link treatment system.
Dawn Trevitt, 66, was rushed to Gulgong Hospital near Mudgee last month with dangerously low blood pressure.
But the only health workers in the hospital were nurses, and the shift doctor treated Ms. Trevitt remotely on a video conference.
She suffered a gastrointestinal haemorrhage and died within an hour of her arrival.
Ms. Trevitt’s heartbroken daughter Hayley Olivares said the coroner is now working on the case because the doctor was not comfortable signing the cause of death.
“I really don’t want any other family to have the same experience,” Ms. Olivares told the Sydney Morning Herald.
A doctor has not entered Gulgong Hospital since June when the local general practitioner’s contract with the hospital was not renewed.
The local health district of West NSW announced last month that it would allow a mix of personal doctors and telemedicine in its hospitals, the equivalent of 31 percent of state hospitals.
However, under the new minimum requirements, doctors only need to be in the hospital on certain days of the week between 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., while video conferencing makes up the other 14 hours of the day.
A doctor only needs to appear in person at least one day a week in Collarenebri, two days a week in Brewarrina, and three days a week in Lightning Ridge.
Bourke and Walgett hospitals require doctors to be present five days a week.
Dr. Phillip Jolly of Lightning Ridge Hospital criticized the system as “dangerous and inappropriate”.
Ms. Trevitt was rushed to Gulgong Hospital (pictured) near Mudgee last month with dangerously low blood pressure, but the shift doctor treated her via video link
“Telehealth should be a service for places where no medical staff is available and not a service that replaces medical staff,” said Dr. Jolly.
“If we go down the path of hospitals where no doctors are physically housed, this should be a policy that is discussed at the political level.”
Another doctor, who chose to remain anonymous, said patients should hope for a heart attack between nine and five.
A spokeswoman for the Western NSW Local Health District vehemently opposed declined services, saying innovative telehealth is commonplace in hospitals around the world.
She said regional hospitals still have 24/7 access to a doctor – physically or remotely – and the requirement for on-site hours is an “absolute minimum”.
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