Whistleblowers come forward after 83 year old woman is severely injured during hospital visit

An older woman living with dementia in Sydney was left covered in severe bruising after suffering, what her family was told, a fall in hospital. The woman was admitted to Hornsby Hospital after experiencing dizzy spells and a fall at home.

Known as Mrs B, the 83 year old’s family were shocked when she was discharged to a private respite home, still wearing a hospital gown and with congealed blood in her hair. When her daughter came to visit her, she was shocked to find her covered in bruises and with two black eyes.

New information has emerged, suggesting that Mrs B’s injuries may not in fact be the result of a fall.

Reports from two separate whistleblowers have said that her injuries have not come from a fall alone. One whistleblower has alleged that Mrs B was restrained when she walked towards the lifts in the hospital and was pushed and dragged back towards her bed.

A second has claimed that police didn’t check security cameras or talk to hospital staff when initially investigating how the woman living with dementia was hurt.

Speaking to 7News, Lorraine Long from Medical Error Action Group has questioned why it has taken whistleblowers speaking up to spark any real action on the case.

“I believe they’re all the hallmarks of an assault,” she said, speaking of the horrific injuries the 83 year old has sustained.

In an interview yesterday with Ray Hadley on his 2GB morning radio show, NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Jones said that police had indeed not requested the CCTV footage.

“For what it’s worth, Ray, the information was that the injuries were consistent with a fall,” he said.

“At that point in time that’s what we had, now that’s all changed this morning of course.”

Following the whistleblower reports, NSW Police have reopened the investigation into how she sustained such severe injuries and bruising to her face, neck and arms. The HCCC, who would usually wait for a written complaint, have also opened their own investigation, after being so concerned by Mrs B’s injuries.

Injuries were extensive

“I was shocked, I couldn’t believe the state… couldn’t believe it was the same lady,” Tracey McCarthy, Mrs B’s daughter told 9News.

“It was really overwhelming and heartbreaking. She’s my mum, no one wants to see your mum like that, she’s elderly, and it was her birthday, her 83rd birthday.”

Ms McCarthy went on to say that she was “livid” that no one had been contacted about the wellbeing of her mother.

“She had no family member there to comfort her.. she would have been in a lot of pain, she wouldn’t have known what was going on,” she said.

Initially, both Hornsby Hospital and a spokesman for Northern Sydney Local Health District offered an “unreserved apology” to the family.

“Hornsby Hospital made contact with the family of this patient last week to provide an unreserved apology and to offer further support,” the spokesman said.

“An investigation into the care experienced by this patient while in hospital is underway. The investigation will include a review of the falls, communication with the family and the discharge process.

“Despite several falls prevention strategies being put in place while in hospital, the patient unfortunately suffered two falls.

“Hospital staff are undertaking a review of the processes around the discharge of the patient, and the hospital has also apologised to the family.”

Since the whistleblowers have come forward, we are yet to hear a renewed statement from Hornsby Hospital or Northern Sydney Local Health District.

Image Source: The Ray Hadley Morning Show Facebook page

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  1. It would be interesting to know What areas of the hospital this patient was exposed to, I.e. accident & emergency? Wards? etc. and how many of the staff she was exposed to are specifically trained in dementia?
    So many times I have witnessed aged and dementia people being attended to by amazing doctors and nurses but many who have little to nil training in working with aged and dementia patients. I feel so sorry for the patients and the staff in these situations.
    Often in A&E departments when a patient with mental health issues arrive, a staff member from the mental health unit is called to attend for support. Why is this not the same for aged or dementia patients?

    1. Every ED needs an ACE Team. We are an ageing population so it makes sense to have specialist staff on all shifts in large EDs & one on call in smaller EDs to ensure patients with dementia receive the care they need.

  2. My mother was admitted to Monash hospital Clayton in Victoria after a fall.
    She sustained bleeds on the brain, fractured eye socket, facial injuries and 5 broken ribs. After 9 days following her fall I overheard a nurse doing handover stating my mother had an undiagnosed wrist fracture & was unsure what was being done about it! If this was from the original fall it went undiagnosed for 9 days. It was placed in a plaster cast the next day.
    On the day my mother was being transferred from Monash Hospital to Regis aged care for respite I had a call from Monash that my mother had endured another fall during the night. Xrays were performed on her shoulders and I was assured there were no injuries from the fall. Days later while visiting my mother at Regis Aged Care, upon standing assisted to go to the bathroom my mother says oh my hip what has happened to it (my mother suffers with dementia)? The nurse (at Regis) assisting organised xrays for me. We discovered that 9 days after my mother’s fall the day of discharge from Monash she had endured a fractured hip requiring surgery.
    The orthopaedic surgeon who performed the surgery asked “I notice your mother had a cast on her wrist, would you like me to follow up on that?”. I accepted his offer to later find out that my mother’s wrist hadn’t been set properly prior to the cast being put on. Two undiagnosed injuries my mother had endured neglected to be picked up by Monash Hospital.
    During mum’s stay at Monash it took me 9 days to get hold of a doctor in the echo medical team who were in charge of mum’s care. The not knowing of the medical prognosis of your loved one and the plan for their ongoing care was heart wrenching and extremely distressing.
    The care for the elderly in general is appalling, you get the odd exception as I did come across two caring doctors but in general there is a lack of care within the system.

  3. The photos are shocking to look at, however I have seen injuries like this sustained from a serious fall, so it is not unreasonable that the police took the word of the staff when told injuries are consistent with falls. It is a disgrace that this may not be the case & if someone has assaulted Mrs B the consequences should reflect the crime & the person responsible never allowed to work in any sort of care role again.

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