Base missed broken jaw

Tayla Hughes, 11, was sent home from Mackay Base Hospital with an undiagnosed broken jaw, her mother Tricia Schmidtke said.
Tayla Hughes, 11, was sent home from Mackay Base Hospital with an undiagnosed broken jaw, her mother Tricia Schmidtke said. Contributed

TRICIA Schmidtke doesn't know how a doctor at Mackay Base Hospital failed to diagnose her daughter's broken jaw.

She was angry the doctor refused to take a scan after the X-ray or grant her request for a second opinion, and even angrier that 11-year-old Tayla Hughes was sent home without proper pain medication.

Tayla fell one metre off a stage, landing on her face, after fainting at a school assembly on January 30, her mother said. The hospital took an X-ray, but the doctor said Tayla's jaw was not broken.

Ms Schmidtke said when she asked for a follow-up scan and a second opinion, she was told to bring Tayla back in 72 hours if her pain persisted.

The doctor told her Tayla appeared to have an irregular heartbeat, which was likely to have caused her to faint, she said.

"They said they would have kept her in (for more tests) but couldn't because there was no beds (so they would arrange for a portable heart monitor)," Ms Schmidtke said.

While chasing up the portable heart monitor the next day, Ms Schmidtke spoke to the triage nurse about her daughter's strong pain and was told that was normal after a fall, she said.

"She was nearly passing out with the pain," she said.

The next day, Ms Schmidtke brought Tayla to a private doctor, who quickly diagnosed the broken jaw and arranged for a portable heart monitor.

"He just looked at me and said 'her jaw's broken' (and the scans confirmed this)."

Ms Schmidtke and Tayla flew to Brisbane the next day to see an expert as recommended, with their flights costing $2000.

She said Mackay Base Hospital staff had questioned her travel expenses claim, asking why she needed to accompany Tayla to Brisbane and suggesting they should have driven.

Ms Schmidtke said a response to her official complaint was unapologetic, stating that Tayla was unlucky because the hospital had been extremely busy that day.

However, Mackay Base Hospital executive director of medical services Dr Max Mansoor this week apologised to Tayla and her family.

"The doctor in question made a clinical judgment based on the information available at the time, however, it appears that further steps should have been taken to ensure an appropriate and timely diagnosis of Tayla's condition," Dr Mansoor said.

"The subsidy provided for her travel to Brisbane is also being reviewed and the issue around provision of pain medication has been addressed with staff. Incidents can occur by staff at our very best hospitals. As a patient I would want to know two things - that incidents are rare, and that we learn from them. Tayla and her family can rest assured that the hospital will take any action required to prevent such a situation occurring in the future."

Topics:  mackay base hospital

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