Parents see report on Ryan's death

THE parents of tragic toddler Ryan Saunders, whose death two years ago raised serious questions about the quality of care at Emerald and Rockhampton hospitals, are wading through a weighty Health Quality and Complaints Commission report into the case.

Terry and Donna Saunders, of Emerald, met yesterday with Cheryl Herbert, the head of the commission, in Rockhampton as Queensland Health came to terms with a number of recommendations aimed at preventing a repeat of the two-year-old's death which sparked a storm of protest about the state of the public health service in Central Queensland.

Health Minister and Deputy Premier Paul Lucas said he had requested that a version of the findings be made public at the earliest opportunity because Ryan's death had raised genuine issues of public interest.

“An open and transparent approach is required to these issues of public importance,” he said.

The commission investigated Ryan's death for more than 18 months, gathered information from 59 witnesses and sought opinion from six clinical experts.

Ms Herbert said it was a complex case with implications not just for Rockhampton and Emerald, but for the entire state.

“We extend our sincere condolences to the family of Ryan Saunders. We hope the information, comments and recommendations made in this report provide them with the answer they have been seeking,” she said.

“We also hope the significant recommendations we have made will prevent further patient harm and improve the safety and quality of health services across Queensland.”

The report is being withheld from public scrutiny on the grounds it contains detailed personal medical information relating to a matter that is still before the coroner.

Late yesterday Queensland Health said it had legal advice preventing it from releasing the report but it would implement all recommendations contained within.

Ryan's death on September 26, 2007, caused an outcry in Emerald and across Central Queensland.

The toddler spent several days in extreme pain and after transfer from Emerald to Rockhampton Hospital he lay for 24 hours, screaming in agony, before his death.

It was initially thought he died from a twisted intestine, but an autopsy later revealed he was killed by a rare bacterial infection that caused toxic shock.

Last week, on the second anniversary of the tragedy, Ryan's father said he was constantly haunted by the way his son spent his final hours.

“We're still dealing with it every day,” said Terry.

“It's nearly every minute of every day, it's never out of your head ... I don't think it will ever be.”

The family's lawyer, Ian Brown, said yesterday emotions were still raw and it would take some time before Terry and Donna would be in a position to make further comment.

The report fills 150 pages and some of the language used was specialist and complex and difficult to digest.

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