Teenager, 18, who was sent home from hospital three times in just 48 hours after complaining about knee pain dies – because doctors missed he was suffering from a flesh-eating disease
A teenager died of an infected toenail after being sent home from hospital three times following a series of horrific blunders.
Alex Haes, 18, from Broken Hill in far-west New South Wales, woke up one night in September 2017 with agonising pain in his knee.
His father took him to Broken Hill Hospital but staff assumed he had a sporting injury and he was told to come back the next morning for an ultra-sound.
He arrived at 8am and had the ultra-sound but the hospital was so busy that no doctor was available to review the results.
Nobody tested Alex’s pulse, blood pressure or temperature even though he was in great pain.
Alex returned at 6pm that night to collect his results and was told that he had a possible torn tendon.
He went home but the next day was in excruciating pain and called triple zero.
Alex was told there were no ambulances available and so asked his dad to come home from work to drive him to hospital.
When the pair arrived, Alex was in too much pain to walk but it took hospital staff 25 minutes to provide him with a wheelchair so he could get into the building.
Once inside, Alex’s condition deteriorated rapidly until he was only semi-conscious and unable to talk coherently.
Doctors discovered he had a deadly flesh-eating disease called necrotising fasciitis which had started in his toenail and was causing his kidneys to fail.
An emergency team was quickly assembled to keep Alex stable before he would be flown to a hospital with better facilities where he could be treated.
The nearest hospital was the Royal Adelaide Hospital – but the only available pilot had maxed out on his flying hours which are regulated by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.
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