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Woman with facial fractures sent home

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 29/05/2017

A district health board has been criticised over the care of a woman who was twice sent home despite having fractures to her face.

In a ruling on Monday by the Health and Disability Commissioner, the unidentified DHB was found to be in breach of the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers' Rights for its treatment of the woman, who is only identified as a university student.

Unwell at her home with flu-like symptoms, she fainted twice, the second time hitting her face.

Transported to hospital by ambulance, the woman stayed overnight for observation.

Although discharged the following morning, she returned to the hospital's emergency department that night, complaining of a sore face.

No examination was carried out and commissioner Anthony Hill notes that "no documentation exists for the woman's second presentation except for a medical certificate issued by a medical officer".

Subsequently, the woman was diagnosed with facial fractures.

Mr Hill said the woman should have been triaged properly on her second visit to the hospital and in not doing so, "it failed to provide her with services with reasonable care and skill".

Mr Hill was also critical there was no record of the woman's second presentation, except for the medical certificate, and the DHB was unable to identify the staff member who spoke with her.

He said a facial injury should have been picked up during her overnight stay in the hospital and recommended that mentoring for junior doctors and emergency department triage improve.

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