Resident’s family take legal action against home, provider points to media misrepresentation

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The provider’s CEO said some case details had been “misrepresented in the media.” [Source: A Current Affair]

A Queensland woman plans to take legal action against her father’s aged care facility after they allegedly failed to manage his pain medication while he was dying from pancreatic cancer, but the provider has said the media has misrepresented the facts.

Kim Sutton took the story of her 86-year-old father John Currie to A Current Affair where she alleged he endured “a horrific, terrible passing” at Lutheran Services’ Northridge Salem Aged Care facility in August 2022.

Before his death, Mr Currie is said to have spent time in Toowoomba Hospital where he suffered from severe abdominal pain before being discharged back to the aged care facility. According to Ms Sutton, her father was discharged with a medical summary from the hospital recommending he continue to receive Targin, a powerful pain killer.

The discharge summary was allegedly misplaced so Mr Currie received only Panadol to manage his pain.

“It got to the stage where he was screaming,” she told A Current Affair.

Ms Sutton said her father was given a small dose of morphine but that he died three days later.

She alleged upon taking the case to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, it found Mr Currie’s pain levels were not appropriately assessed or evaluated during his admission and an acceptable level of pressure injury care was not provided.

Lutheran Services Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Nick Ryan, shared his condolences with the family and said the organisation respects the confidential nature of residents’ individual care. He did not confirm if Mr Currie’s discharge summary was misplaced but suggested some details of this case “have been misrepresented in the media”.

“We have taken considerable time and care to understand what happened with our resident and have met with and spoken to the family on many occasions,” he told HelloCare.

Mr Ryan said that since the incident, Lutheran Services has implemented additional measures to support high-quality resident care and engaged with Mr Currie’s family throughout this process.

Ian Henschke, Chief Advocate for National Seniors Australia said the case highlights the need for better palliative care at all aged care facilities.

He said, “Everyone deserves a good death, they deserve as pain-free a death as possible, and I hope that this case will actually make aged care better.”

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