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"Neglected Pathology results leading to incorrect antibiotics"

About: Karratha Health Campus / Emergency Department

(as a parent/guardian),

Last month I attended ED (Karratha Hospital) with my young child due to massive amount of bloody discharge from ear, lethargic, no appetite and mild rash. Attending Dr carried out a swab for pathology & provided ear drops labelled Ciloxan. Dr requested we attend GP in 5 days for follow up.

Three days later, as I understand it, Emergency Department received Pathology results back stating bacteria to be 'abundant growth of Streptococcus Pyogenes' - no contact made with myself regarding results, nor were results sent to GP for referral. (I know this as I have since spoken with pathology for details).

The next day, I called Karratha Hospital to request a copy of pathology results to take to GP (preempting that this had not already happened). collected a paper copy for GP.

That day, attended GP with my child where I was informed that the Ciloxan drops were doing nothing for such a bacteria and that my child would require both oral antibiotics and different ear drops to have any effect on Streptococcus Group A. 

The day after that, after an evening of correct medication, my child woke with initial signs of recovery. This is when I first noticed that the right side of their face was showing signs of paralysis. 

That same day, we returned to ED. Discussions began for CT scan. My child was admitted into Karratha Hospital.

That night and the following day, three Doctors and one Anaesthetist unsuccessfully attempted to get a cannula into my child; attempting in the arm, wrist area and foot; Eight attempts in total, all but one being without any numbing cream. 

Between one Dr and the Anaesthetist, it felt like a competition on who was better; between them, I believe it was 5 attempts. This caused both my child and myself an immense amount of trauma. I believe the attending nurse was also very upset by the entire situation, disputing with the Anaesthetist as I understand it, over the need for putting a child under such heavy sedation for CT scan (having come from another hospital where this was not the process).

That day, as no cannula was successful, nurses had to inject antibiotics into my child's bottom, during one injection a nurse pricked themselves which meant my child had to have another (needle) blood test at the end of their stay at another hospital. 

Following this, we were RFDS to this other hospital where my child had a cannula inserted the first attempt and was not sedated in any manner for the CT scan.

Basically, my child had a nasty bacterial infection which was left untreated causing inflammation of the facial nerves. Overall we received brilliant care at the other hospital and my child has made a full recovery.

My complaint is: 

1. That the pathology result was not followed up by Karratha Hospital.

2. Possible lack of training/experience in Karratha Hospital DRs dealing with children's veins 

3. With the Anaesthetist and a particular DR, there appeared to be no understanding of how to deal with children, never speaking directly with my child (unlike DR's at the other hospital) in one instance the Dr inserted a cannula needle after having just promised to both my child and the nurse that they would only "look" and tell us if they were to attempt another time.

4. Appeared to be a lack in communication between Dr's and nurses; having a nurse provide my child with panadol and water in the morning of anaesthetic, only for me to be questioned by Dr (re fasting).

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Response from Cherelle Fitzclarence, Senior Medical Officer, West Pilbara, WA Country Health Service (WACHS) Pilbara 2 months ago
Cherelle Fitzclarence
Senior Medical Officer, West Pilbara,
WA Country Health Service (WACHS) Pilbara
Submitted on 24/09/2021 at 09:00
Published on Care Opinion at 09:00

Dear atlasnf73,

I am very sorry to read about what happened when you took your child to Karratha Hospital Emergency Department (ED). This sounds like a very painful and distressing time for your child and you as their parent and I sincerely apologise that we caused additional stress at what was already a very worrying time.

I am concerned and sincerely apologise for what appears to have been a breakdown in communication concerning your child’s pathology results and the medication they were prescribed and that you had to represent to the ED some days later, which resulted in a hospital admission for your child. I would also like to apologise for the distress that was caused to you and your child regarding a number of unsuccessful attempts to insert a cannula. This must have been a very traumatic situation for you both and I sincerely apologise for the distress that this caused.

I will be sharing your experience with our medical teams to ensure that this does not happen to another patient and their family.

I would like the opportunity to thoroughly investigate what happened and would be very grateful if you could kindly make contact with us here at Karratha Health Campus so we can work in partnership together.

My name is Cherelle Fitzclarence and I am a senior clinician in the Pilbara. I would welcome being able to speak with you so that I can learn more about the details of what happened. If you are happy to, please call me on 08 9144 7639 or email me at

I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards

Cherelle Fitzclarence

Senior Medical Officer West Pilbara

WA Country Health Service (WACHS) Pilbara

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