A nurse has admitted to a coroner that she did not properly assess a pregnant woman’s pain before discharging her from hospital just hours before her death.
Julie-Ann Brewis was working the night shift at Tumut Hospital in the early hours of New Year’s Day, 2016 when 27-year-old Aboriginal woman Naomi Williams arrived six months pregnant and complaining of pain in her hips.
When questioned as to how she assessed her pain, Ms Brewis admitted she never asked her to rate it on a scale of one to 10.
“I probably didn’t do a very good assessment of her pain, I just asked her and … she didn’t appear to be in a lot of pain,” Ms Brewis said.
Before driving to the hospital, Ms Williams messaged a friend saying “I can barely move” followed by “just my body aching all over”.
Ms Williams was given two Panadol, discharged 34 minutes after arriving, and died along with her unborn baby boy during a heart attack later that day.
That final visit marked her 18th to Tumut Hospital over just seven months for symptoms including extreme pain, vomiting, and nausea.
An autopsy report later revealed her death was almost certainly caused by sepsis associated with Neisseria meningitidis, a condition usually treatable with antibiotics.
The nurse-in-charge at Tumut Hospital that evening, Shirley Adams, also admitted that she did not complete one of Ms Williams’ medical charts correctly.
Counsel for Ms Williams family Maria Gerace asked Ms Adams why she never entered Ms Williams’ low blood pressure reading.
“When you got to the boxes that dealt with blood pressure, did you just bypass them?” Ms Gerace asked.
“I should’ve put it on the chart, I guess,” Ms Adams responded.
The court heard Ms Williams was discharged without seeing a doctor despite four of her vital signs bordering on the “yellow zone”, which acts as an early warning sign of a patient’s deterioration.
“Given that there were four borderline yellows, did you ever think to call the doctor in?" Coroner Harriet Grahame asked.
“Not until we had rechecked all her observations, but by that time the patient was clinically well,” Ms Adams replied.
Ms Grahame asked her whether the fact that it was New Year’s Eve impacted her decision to not ring the on-call doctor, but she assured her it did not.
The inquest continues.
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