Mary “Joyce” Taouk arrived at Bendigo’s Strath-Haven Community aged care home five years ago. Sadly, less than a year later, she died as a result of an infection that began as a blister on her left foot.
In a recent report in The Age, Mrs Taouk’s children alleged that their mother’s death from sepsis was the result of improper wound treatment and neglect.
The family also revealed that they are now suing the aged care provider and Bendigo GP Richard Hadkins over the trauma that the grandmother’s death has caused them.
According to court documents, the family alleges that despite seeing the grandmother 18 times in five months, Dr Hadkins failed to perform an adequate examination on Mrs Taouk’s legs – which were at risk of developing ulcers due to her diabetes.
Records indicate that Dr Hadkins diagnosed the ulcer and prescribed antibiotics to Mrs Taouk on December 6, but lawyers acting on behalf of the family allege that Dr Hadkins should have acted more urgently.
“At that point and at each of the multiple other occasions he saw Joyce thereafter, the doctor
should have sent her to hospital for treatment of what had become a chronic wound,” Shari Liby, a medical negligence lawyer for Slater and Gordon told The Age.
It wasn’t until an on-call GP saw Mrs Taouk’s wound on January 2 – almost a month after Dr Hadkins prescribed antibiotics – that wound swabs were sent to pathology and she was referred for urgent wound care, Ms Liby said.
“That doctor also directed Strath-Haven staff to perform daily dressing changes, though this order does not appear to have been followed.”
Pathology results revealed that the antibiotic that Dr Hadkin had prescribed Mrs Taouk was ineffective for treating the bacteria which caused her infection – and that her medication was changed and new tests were ordered on January 10.
Two days later, Dr Hadkin is alleged to have spoken with a specialist at Bendigo hospital and arranged for Mrs Taouk to be seen, but this did not occur until five days later on January 17, when Mrs Taouk was transferred to hospital suffering from a critical blood infection and kidney failure.
Mrs Taouk died a week later on January 24, 2018.
“We took their word for it at the time and now have so much guilt and sadness because of it,” one family member told The Age.
“If you think something’s not right then usually it isn’t, so you should act on your concerns straight away,” she said.
“If sharing what happened to mum can help other families follow their gut instinct about the way their loved one is being treated, then this has definitely been worthwhile.”