June Rex, with her friend Sonia Pitman, is recovering after an operation to repair her badly broken arm. Her treatment at Rockhampton Hospital is the subject of an official complaint..
June Rex, with her friend Sonia Pitman, is recovering after an operation to repair her badly broken arm. Her treatment at Rockhampton Hospital is the subject of an official complaint.. MEGAN LEWIS

Broken arm was turning black

SONIA Pitman knew something wasn’t right when she saw the swelling and deep bruising on her elderly friend’s badly broken arm.

So on the day June Rex was sent home after a week in Rockhampton Hospital, Sonia took her to one of the city’s private hospitals for a second opinion.

“It’s a good job I did,” said Sonia yesterday, “otherwise June might have lost her arm.”

According to an official complaint lodged this week, one of Rockhampton’s leading surgeons rushed June into the operating theatre to put a plate into June’s left arm, just below the shoulder where there were two jagged breaks.

“The bones were about 40mm apart and muscle and nerves were trapped,” said Sonia.

“It was horrible. A plaster they put on in the emergency department just fell off and I could see June’s arm was turning black.”

The complaint alleges that at Rockhampton Hospital staff said on a number of occasions that June would need an operation, but she was then sent home without any treatment other than the plaster cast which came away.

“It was useless,” said Sonia.

“It wasn’t holding her arm in place at all.”

The Morning Bulletin has confirmed an operation was carried out last Monday after the surgeon suspected failure to act would result in June losing function in her left arm.

Recovering at the home of her friend in Park Avenue, 68-year-old June said she had fallen under her house and had to crawl on her hands and knees to raise the alarm with a next-door neighbour.

“An ambulance took me to the emergency department and they did X-Rays and put the cast on. They kept me in the hospital for a week and they kept saying I should have an operation, so it was a big surprise when they said I could go home.

“I could feel it wasn’t right even though there was no pain. I couldn’t move my arm.”

Sonia said she was “disgusted with the lack of care and failure to communicate” at the city’s main hospital.

“I think we should be able to count on our hospital to give the best care, especially to older patients. I think they should have taken more care.

“The way she was treated has shaken my confidence in the system.”

Chris Mummery, the acting executive director at Rockhampton Hospital apologised to Ms Rex for any concerns she had over the care she had received but said an initial review of her medical notes showed the treatment was “clinically appropriate”.

“When a more comprehensive review is complete we will be happy to provide Ms Rex with a full explanation of the results,” Ms Mummery said.

She said non-surgical treatment was often a good option depending on injuries, other health conditions and risk factors such as age and mobility.

And she said a follow-up appointment was made for Ms Rex but it was not attended.

“Rockhampton Hospital will co-operate fully with Ms Rex and her family to address any concerns or complaints she has raised,” she said.



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