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Coroner’s finding: swine flu deaths in country hospitals (February 2013)

The South Australian coroner has made a number of recommendations as part of his fi ndings, delivered in February 2013, into two unrelated deaths due to complications associated with pandemic swine flu in 2009. Both were admitted to country hospitals.

The coroner recommended that the Minister for Health cause systems and protocols to be designed to ensure that country hospitals in SA are staffed with appropriate medical expertise and to ensure that patients admitted to hospitals are properly and regularly reviewed by a medical practitioner of appropriate and relevant experience.

It was also recommended that the Minister for Health ensure the promulgation within public hospitals in both the metropolitan area and country SA of systems and protocols designed to enable medical practitioners and nurses to recognise and appropriately respond to the deteriorating patient. Dr Peter Joyner, A/Chief Medical Advisor of Country Health SA Local Health Network (CHSALHN) has indicated that CHSALHN is actioning the recommendations and that it continues to focus on ensuring appropriate medical services in country hospitals, utilising local general practitioners, training organisations and the Rural Doctors Workforce Agency for locum support. Dr Joyner also indicated that there is signifi cant work underway across CHSALHN in the area of the deteriorating patient. A state-wide adult observation chart is currently being implemented across country hospitals and will assist in the identification and escalation of the deteriorating patient.

Other charts are also being fi nalised for the paediatric and maternity areas. CHSALHN and the AMA(SA)
will continue to discuss the recommendations at their regular meetings. More information is included in the
Coroner’s finding at www.courts.sa.gov.au.