As parents we want the best for our children. We want them to be safe, happy and healthy.
That’s why when we see and feel that our children are unwell it can be incredibly scary.
We do our best to get them the highest medical care possible and into the hands of the many experienced and trained medical personnel in our country.
While it is important to note that many working in our hospitals and clinics have extensive knowledge and skills to be respected, it is vital that every parent knows of their rights when it comes to the care our children receive.
Your Gut Instincts
Countless studies have shown that parents have an acute understanding of their children and their normal healthy behaviour.
Parent’s gut instincts have been shown on numerous occasions to be correct. When it comes to the care that your children receive, you have the right to have your concerns heard by medical staff.
Unfortunately there isn’t a federal rule in Australia surrounding the right to secure further medical checks for our children when parents are still concerned.
There are however several state legislations that can be used in the event that you as a parent aren’t satisfied with the medical care that your child has received.
QLD and Ryan’s Rule
In 2007 Ryan Saunders, 3 years old, was admitted to hospital and misdiagnosed with mumps.
His parents felt that as the hours progressed he was still getting worse. They felt that their concerns about his health weren’t respected and heard.
Despite their calls for action, Ryan died 30 hours after being readmitted to hospital. He died of a bacterial infection that had developed into toxic shock.
Medically it was possible to have detected his condition and treated it appropriately.
Ryan’s parents advocated for parent’s voices to be heard when seeking medical care for their children and Ryan’s Rule was introduced in 2013.
Ryan’s Rule allows parents to access a clinical review in a timely and simple manner if they are still concerned about their child’s medical treatment.
QLD health explains how to invoke Ryan’s Rule:
NSW and REACH
REACH is an acronym standing for:
Help is on its way
Dr Karen Luxford, Director, Patient-Based Care at the NSW Clinical Excellence Commission says that “Every single call we’ve taken [as part of the REACH program] has led to a change in treatment.”
NSW Health explains how the process of reach works:
A spokesperson for the ACT has stated, “”Canberra Hospital has a Patient and Family Escalation Process and Call and Respond Early (CARE) for Patient Safety Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), which provides guidelines for patients and their family/carers to escalate their concerns if they feel these are not being responded to by the clinicians on the ward.”
Parents, family members and carers are given information regarding SOP upon admission.
If they feel their condition is worsening or they aren’t comfortable with their level of care they are able to use the procedures outlined in SOP.
The process of concern starts by alerting the nurse attached to the patient of your concerns.
If you are still not satisfied then you may alert your concerns to the nurse in charge.
If a patient or family member is still concerned they may ask for the CARE Responder number and speak to them.
The CARE response officer will review the patient within 10 minutes, hear their concerns, discuss the matter with clinical staff and liaise with the patient and/or family member as appropriate.
Victoria and WA
While these states are yet to implement statewide rules there are processes available to concerned parents and carers.
If a parent or carer is concerned about the treatment of their child they are able to escalate their concerns by calling for a patient liaison officer.
The patient liaison officer will meet with the concerned parties to listen and implement a change in treatment if needed.
Additionally WA has a program, the Health Consumers’ Council, that offers support and advocacy advice for persons and patients needing help with health and treatment concerns.
While South Australia is yet to have a code such as Queensland’s Ryan’s Rule, the family of Leila Baartse-Harkin are advocating for the government to implement Leila’s Lifeline.
Leila passed away after her a perforated bowel and peritonitis was missed by two SA hospitals and a GP.
Regardless of State
Regardless of which state you are currently living in, the Australian health charter gives every Australian the right to ask for a second opinion.
It is important that when it comes to our children, we listen to our instincts and exercise the rights laid out in the charter whenever we aren’t satisfied with diagnosis or treatment.