I, along with probably a large portion of the West Australian adult population read with horror the story in this weekend’s papers, concerning the tragedy relating to Andrew Allan who died within hours of being seen and sent home at Northam Hospital’s accident and emergency on Thursday evening. The cause of death for young Andrew seems likely to be determined only after autopsy etc. It would seem likely that a Coroner’s Inquest may follow.
While it is to be applauded that acting CEO Wayne Savage from the WA Country Health Service has indicated a ‘full and thorough’ investigation will follow, what is not reported as having been said is whether the full findings and report of such investigation will be:
1) made public;
2) made known to the family.
Far too often in my experience, in cases like this, investigations and their conclusions are withheld, with claims of legal privilege (sometimes I suspect ‘retrospectively’) asserted.
It is to be hoped that in this instance, appreciating that this is a matter primarily requiring investigation because of the need to ensure it does not occur again, no such grounds for secrecy will be asserted.
It is certainly true that the relevant hospital’s insurer may well wish to conduct an investigation in terms of its potential legal liability. This should however in my view (predictably) be an entirely separate investigation from that undertaken in accordance with Mr Savage’s undertaking to the family
Legal compensation or liability is not the primary issue at this point. What I am sure is the primary issue for the Allans is an explanation how this could happen to their son. Perhaps equally important to them and for the rest us, an assurance and explanation why we can be sure that this will not happen next time…