Meningococcal victim went 5 hours unchecked: inquest
SINCE the death of teenager Jasmyn Louise Carter-Maher at Warwick Hospital, a range of improvements in staff levels and procedures have been implemented, a coroner's inquest into her death has been told.
Coroner John Lock is looking into the deaths of the 17-year-old at Warwick Hospital in August last year and 86-year-old Verris Dawn Wright who died at Oakey Hospital on Boxing Day 2013.
Specifically the inquest is seeking answers to why medical staff at both hospitals had failed to detect sepsis in each case.
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Ms Carter-Maher had attended Warwick Hospital's emergency department with dizziness, a headache and body aches on the afternoon of August 3 last year.
She was found to have a very low blood pressure and low body temperature but was talking and responding to medical staff.
Nursing staff who were on duty that day told the inquest that it had been a particularly busy afternoon.
Registered nurse Jade Harmer said a doctor had seen the teenager who was assessed at category three, requiring observations including blood pressure, pulse and temperature to be taken every 30 to 60 minutes.
However, she said staff at that stage had no concerns for Ms Carter-Maher.
At 6pm, the doctor ordered the teen to be admitted to the ward and she had been sleeping on and off and conversing with her mother and sister who were there.
Asked by Sally Rob, counsel for nursing staff, if a critically ill patient would be ordered into a ward by a doctor, Ms Harmer replied "No".
Registered nurse Annemaree Hamilton took over the care for Ms Carter-Maher as well as other patients at shift hand-over later in the day.
She noted the teen's blood pressure was very low at 77 over 41 and was told the doctor was aware of her low blood pressure.
She told the inquest she contacted the doctor about the teen's low blood pressure but the doctor said that it had been similar when she was admitted at the emergency department earlier in the day.
Ms Hamilton said though Ms Carter-Maher's blood pressure was very low, she was up walking about and the doctor had said to monitor her overnight and let him know of any change.
She said the nurses on duty had thought the teen might have just been dehydrated and she was given fluids.
Counsel assisting the coroner Megan Jarvis said, by medical records, Ms Carter-Maher had had her observations checked at 8.15pm but not again until after 1am.
Ms Hamilton said she had gone back to monitor the teen at one point but she was not in her bed and had gone to the toilet.
The registered nurse said she was probably busy with other patients and didn't get back to her.
Ms Carter-Maher died early on August 4 from meningococcal septicaemia.
The inquest continues today.