The hospital where a seven-year-old old girl died after allegedly waiting to be seen for two hours in the ER had 21 medical near-misses since the start of last year.
Aishwarya Aswath died only 15 minutes after she started receiving treatment at Perth Children’s Hospital on Saturday night.
Her parents claim they repeatedly begged staff for help as Aishwarya’s eyes clouded over and her hands went cold.
Aishwarya Aswath died after allegedly being made to wait for two hours for treatment in the Perth Children’s Hospital emergency room, her parents claim
On Thursday they paid tribute to their ‘beautiful, happy child’ as they plead for urgent change to prevent another needless death.
‘She was happy all the time. She was happy when she was going to school – in fact she always wanted to be a teacher,’ her father Aswath Chavittupara told The West Australian.
They said days before her death Aishwarya was beaming after receiving a certificate of merit by her Year 3 teacher for her performance in a geography quiz.
‘She was a very creative, imaginative little girl – but she was also very shy,’ her father said.
The circumstances surrounding Aishwarya’s death will be the subject of an internal investigation. There had been 21 medical near-miss events at the children’s hospital since the beginning of 2020
Western Australia Health Minister Roger Cook ordered an urgent inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the youngster’s death.
Data from the Child and Adolescent Health Service revealed there were 21 ‘severity assessment code 1’ events at the children’s hospital since the beginning of 2020.
SAC 1 medical incidents are ones that could have caused ‘serious harm or death’ to a patient as a result of the healthcare provided – and not because of the patient’s condition.
The nursing union also claimed multiple nurses were pulled from the emergency room floor to resuscitate a patient while Aishwarya was waiting to be seen.
‘There was resuscitation going on and there were a significant number of nurses tied up in that,’ Australian Nursing Federation state secretary Mark Olson said.
CAHS chairwoman Debbie Karasinksi said there were only 14 doctors in the emergency room the night the seven-year-old died after four called in sick.
Aishwarya was triaged as a category four patient, the second-lowest urgency.
Ms Karasinski was unable to provide details about the incident and said she didn’t know whether staff shortages had been a contributing factor.
Mr Cook earlier admitted Aishwarya may have been overlooked by hospital staff.
Under-fire staff at the hospital also claimed nurse-to-patient ratios have become dangerous, with cuts to nursing staff putting patients at risk.
A Perth nurse recalled eight nurses trying to care for 93 patients during one recent shift, 7News reported.
The nurse said that ratio was dangerous but it was ‘becoming the norm’ due to staff cuts made during Covid.
There were also ‘several other incidents resulting in significant harm’.
Another Perth mum, Emma, claimed her extremely sick two-year-old – Amanda – was turned away twice from the Perth Children’s Hospital ER.
Amanda was later diagnosed with sepsis and was at risk of organ failure, but she miraculously survived.
‘I’m angry, you know I was hoping they would have woken up with what happened with Amanda,’ Emma said.
A mother who took her one-year-old to PCH the same night as Aishwarya Aswath lay dying in reception claimed the child was ‘easily’ the sickest when she was there.
‘The whole process there on that night was deplorable,’ the woman told WAToday.
‘This whole system failed that young family and my heart breaks for them.’
Nurses at Perth Children’s Hospital have defended themselves saying staff shortages were putting patients at risk
Emergency departments in Western Australia have been ‘crying out for help’ for months, said Australian Medical Association WA president Dr Andrew Miller.
‘We know that bad things happen, we know that people get sick and die, even children, but what families need at this time is to know that everything possible was done, even if the worst outcome was unavoidable here,’ Dr Miller told Perth radio station 6PR.
The WA Government blamed extra demand for mental health services, staff shortages, and tough Covid cleaning standards for delays treating patients.
‘We were down a few doctors that night,’ said Mr Cook told reporters.
‘It’s obviously part and parcel of running an emergency department in any sort of dynamic environment.
‘In a post-Covid world, we are seeing higher volumes and we are seeing greater acuity and complexity.’
Mr Cook acknowledged the WA hospital system was facing ‘challenges’ and said border closures had made it difficult to hire staff.
Aswath Sasidharan pictured left with the youngster’s mother Prasitha Sasidharan. He broke down as he called on authorities to get to the bottom of his daughter’s death
WA Health Minister Roger Cook admitted Aishwarya Aswath may have been ‘overlooked’
The circumstances surrounding Aishwarya’s death will be the subject of an internal investigation by the Child and Adolescent Health Service which is expected to take four to six weeks.
Aishwarya’s mother Prasitha Sasidharan claimed she was told a doctor ‘would come and have a look’ but no one came for two hours.
‘I asked them… her eyes are changing, they asked if it’s normal and I said ‘it’s not normal, she didn’t have it before’,’ Mrs Sasidharan told 9News.
‘We pleaded with them to have a look. They didn’t think it was an emergency.
‘I went to the reception maybe four or five times. I was literally begging to them “please help, please help”.’
The seven-year-old’s father Aswath Chavittupara broke down as he called on authorities to get to the bottom of his daughter’s death.
‘I loved my daughter. This should never happen to any other child in this country,’ he said.
The hospital’s management offered the family their ‘sincere condolences’.
Her death is also being investigated by the coroner.