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Nurse admits error at ex-Socceroo inquest

AAP logoAAP 24/10/2016 Rick Goodman

A nurse has admitted making an error in her care of former Socceroo Steve Herczeg in the hours before he suffered an agonising death because of a hospital bungle, an inquest has heard.

Mr Herczeg died at Adelaide's Queen Elizabeth Hospital on September 19 when his bladder burst and his lungs collapsed.

The former soccer star's urinary catheter had been wrongly connected to his oxygen supply.

Registered nurse Kirsty Lee McColloch told the inquest into his death she cared for the 72-year-old grandfather in the hospital's emergency department that day, conceding she forgot to check his catheter before handing him over to the afternoon nurse.

"I should have (checked it)," she told the South Australian Coroner's Court on Tuesday.

"It was just an error on my part. It was a very, very busy day on that particular day."

Ms McCulloch said it was hospital policy to check and communicate the status of catheters, along with other equipment, when handing a patient over to another nurse.

However, Mr Herczeg did not die in Ms McCulloch's care or even the same ward as he was transferred from the emergency department to the respiratory ward later that day.

He was placed in his own room there and shortly afterwards nurses heard him crying out in pain, saying he was going to die.

On the day Mr Herczeg died he was admitted to hospital because of a fall although he also had a urinary tract infection and lung disease.

The former soccer player's son, Josh Herczeg, was at the inquest and hoped the coroner would find out what went wrong to ensure the error wasn't repeated.

"Would you want it to happen to anyone else?" he said.

"That's what I want. I want the system f***ing fixed. It's bullshit."

Another registered nurse, Stacy Woodward, noted that Steve Herczeg's catheter was in place and working correctly when she was caring for him in the emergency department and that while he was confused, he wasn't in any pain.

The doctor who performed the autopsy told the inquest on Monday that it was highly unusual for the catheter and oxygen supply to become mixed up and that Mr Herczeg's death would have been "quite painful".

He was already suffering ill-health but forensic pathologist Stephen Wills said the injuries would likely have killed any healthy person.

Mr Herzceg was the first South Australian to play for Australia in a FIFA World Cup qualifying match, taking the field for the Socceroos in Cambodia in 1965.

The inquest continues.

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