SA-BEST demands urgent inquiry into man’s death days after hospital release

17 June 2019

SA-BEST today demanded the State Government investigate the sudden death of a man who died just three days after being released from hospital – despite concerns raised by him and his family - following major heart surgery.

SA-BEST MLCs Connie Bonaros and Frank Pangallo said the State Government’s criteria around its Home Hospital Plan also must be seriously questioned following the death of Munno Para man, Paul Errigo, 49

Mr Errigo, a disabled pensioner, was found dead in his bed three days after being released from Lyell McEwin Hospital following two life-threatening operations – during which he had a cardiac arrest and needed to be revived in the first operation - to have six stents inserted into his heart.

Frank said the Mr Errigo’s devastated family is now seeking answers – including wanting to know what responsibility hospitals take when medical staff make a decision to discharge a patient almost immediately after major surgery.

He has written to both the Health Minister, Stephen Wade, and State Coroner, Mark Johns, requesting they both investigate Mr Errigo’s death after meeting with his family last week.

Connie – SA-BEST’s health spokesperson and Chair of a Parliamentary Select Committee on health services in SA – said she would invite Mr Errigo’s family to give evidence before the committee.

Frank said: “It is completely unacceptable that Mr Errigo – a critical patient who only days earlier had to be revived during surgery - was sent home only days after undergoing major life-threatening surgery without any proper monitoring equipment.

“An urgent investigation into the treatment, discharge and death of Mr Errigo must be immediately undertaken,” he said.

“Why should the public have any confidence in the government’s recently touted Home Hospital Plan given this tragedy and when doctors and clinicians are in a rush to clear beds?

“What assurance can the Health Minister give that patients with serious medical conditions are not discharged prematurely and against their own wishes and that of their family members?”

Connie said: “Mr Errigo’s tragic death raises serious concerns about the level of care given to critical care patients.

“His heart surgery was clearly life-threatening and Mr Errigo – who had private health insurance - should have been given ample time to recover under the appropriate hospital supervision,” she said.

“He clearly wasn’t – he was even sent home without any monitoring equipment and against the wishes of his family who raised their concerns with doctors.”

Mr Errigo was admitted to Lyell McEwin Hospital at Elizabeth Vale as a private patient late last month Tuesday after suffering chest pains.

Later the same day, he had three stents inserted in his heart but while in surgery suffered a cardiac arrest and had to be revived.

While in hospital, doctors told Mr Errigo he required another three stents – but that surgery could wait three weeks.

For reasons unknown to his family, doctors changed their minds and two days later inserted another three stents in Mr Errigo’s heart.

Frank said despite concerned family members and Mr Errigo himself wanting him to be kept in hospital and monitored because of the seriousness of his condition, the hospital decided he was well enough to go home and discharged him the following day.

Mr Errigo was found dead in his bed three days later - the result of a cardiac arrest as he slept.

Frank said the death came as the State Government announced it would be ramping up its Home Hospital Plan - where patients with supposed minor health conditions are treated at home via video-conferences with medical professionals.

The ambitious plan is designed to free up the state’s public hospital beds, keep vulnerable groups healthy and reduce ambulance ramping.

“The State Government’s criteria around its Home Hospital Plan must now be seriously questioned following Mr Errigo’s death,” Frank said.

“SA-BEST fully supports innovative and bold health initiatives that free up public hospital beds for more patients in need of hospital care, but not when the lives of patients are placed at risk,” Frank said.

“However, it appears SA Health is placing lives at risk with its risky policy of clearing beds before patients have had a chance to make an acceptable recovery.

“The level of care given to Mr Errigo was disgracefully short of being acceptable.”

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