DHB apologises after urgent surgery delay

  • 15/09/2015
DHB apologises after urgent surgery delay

A hospital has been forced to apologise to a man for taking three days to diagnose a condition that required emergency treatment and left him in intense pain.

Health and Disability Commissioner Anthony Hill has released a report criticising the Southern District Health Board, nurses and an orthopaedics team after a 29-year-old went days without having a condition that required urgent surgery diagnosed.

The man had come in for a fracture in his leg but in the following days complained of increasing pain and was given increasing doses of painkillers to deal with it.

It was not until the third day of intense pain that doctors diagnosed him with compartment syndrome - a condition which causes pressure in arms or legs to gradually increase after some kind of injury.

An operation on the leg went ahead in less than an hour after the diagnosis.

Mr Hill said the monitoring of the man's pain fell "below accepted standards" and nurses had failed to assess the situation properly, while doctors had not made enough of an effort to understand what was causing his unusual pain.

"There is a clear delay from the time [the man's] complaints of pain should have been taken seriously and a definitive diagnosis of the cause of his increasing pain should have been made," orthopaedic surgeon Alex Rutherford said in his advice to the commission.

The DHB has now apologised and the commissioner has asked for a review of training provided to its nurses along with a number of changes to the pain diagnosis procedures.