The family of a granny who died a painful death in an aged care home after her leg rotted plans to take legal action.
The family of a granny who died a painful death in an aged care home after her leg rotted plans to take legal action.

Family’s legal bid after granny dies from rotted leg

The family of a woman who died a painful death after her leg rotted plans to take legal action after a decision which found the woman's doctor had no case to answer.

The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency and its board investigated the doctor who treated Norma Palmer, while she was a resident at Regis Birkdale aged care home.

WARNING: GRAPHIC PICTURE BELOW

Mrs Palmer, 89, died three days after being rushed to hospital for treatment to a wound on her leg which had rotted to the bone.

Ms Palmer's granddaughter Alana Hewett said she had contacted lawyers about the AHPRA decision after a coroner's report said the failure to appropriately manage a lower limb ulcer contributed to the grandmother's death.

"I am still completely baffled at the decision made by the medical board," Ms Hewett said.

"I will not rest until I believe justice has been served for her."

Regis Aged Care, Birkdale. Picture: Renae Droop
Regis Aged Care, Birkdale. Picture: Renae Droop

The AHPRA investigation found there was insufficient information to show the doctor had not practised to an accepted standard.

AHPRA national manager Mark Braybrook said the board completed a risk assessment into the doctor.

"We made a permanent record of your concerns about the practitioner on our database," Mr Braybrook told the family in an email.

"We have advised the doctor about the concerns that you raised.

Norma Palmer died from a septic wound on her leg.
Norma Palmer died from a septic wound on her leg.

"We then considered the information you provided with your concerns, the information that was available on our database, including previous concerns raised, and information that was relevant about the practitioner's work environment.

"After taking these steps and considering all of this information, we believe this is all that is required at this time. We have decided not to take further action."

Alana Hewett with a photo of her grandmother Norma Palmer who died while a resident at Birkdale Regis. Picture: Renae Droop
Alana Hewett with a photo of her grandmother Norma Palmer who died while a resident at Birkdale Regis. Picture: Renae Droop

Mr Braybrook said the Aged Care Quality Safety Commission dealt with complaints about multiple practitioners who would have provided care to Mrs Palmer.

He said AHPRA only progressed individual concerns when there was a risk of harm to the public that would not be adequately managed by the practitioner or their employer.

Ms Hewett's complaints about Regis Birkdale were also lodged with the Aged Care Quality Safety Commission, which found Regis Birkdale did not consistently provide a satisfactory level of care to Mrs Palmer and that there were "significant gaps" in pain management and wound management.

 

Regis Birkdale, above; Mrs Palmer’s wound; and Norma Palmer with her great-grandaughter.
Regis Birkdale, above; Mrs Palmer’s wound; and Norma Palmer with her great-grandaughter.

 

ACQSC commissioner Janet Anderson said a surprise visit to Regis Birkdale in December to assess personal care and clinical care benchmarks found the service compliant.

"Should the commission have ongoing concerns about care and services at Regis Birkdale, the commission will take a proportionate, risk-based approach in determining any regulatory response," Ms Anderson said.

State Health Minister Yvette D'Ath said the case was a matter for the federal authorities.

"This is a deeply concerning and distressing case and it was shocking to hear," she said.

"Private aged care is the responsibility of the Commonwealth regulator and we would expect the regulator to do everything possible to protect residents."

 

Originally published as Family's legal bid after granny dies from rotted leg


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