Doctors, investigators appointed for reviews at hospital

TWO independent doctors and two investigators have been appointed to undertake a Clinical Review and Health Service Investigation into Rockhampton Hospital, following concerns raised about patient safety in recent weeks.

Queensland Health Director-General Ian Maynard announced Dr Howard Lau, Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons would undertake a clinical review into the cases of four patients treated by the same surgeon at Rockhampton Hospital, located in the Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service.

The search for another appropriate clinical reviewer is underway, and may extend to the United Kingdom.

Mr Maynard said the scope of the Clinical Review was broad in order to identify any issues with the safety and quality system and processes at Rockhampton Hospital.

The review will cover:

  • Sequence of events and significant decision-making points relevant to the patients
  • Qualifications, training, experience and scope of practice of the surgeon concerned
  • How the surgery was performed including the informed consent process and surgical
  • safety procedures
  • Capability and staffing of the Rockhampton Hospital at the time of the surgery
  • Post-operative monitoring and patient reviews planned and undertaken, including
  • whether there were any signs or indications that should have led to further
  • investigations, and;
  • The overall management of the patients' presentations, including the
  • appropriateness and timeliness of assessments, investigations and notifications.

The Clinical Review is expected to commence within weeks.

"This entire process has to be thorough to be of any real use, so if the team needs more time I will give it to them," he said.

Mr Maynard said in addition to the Clinical Review, Dr Philip Hoyle, a Fellow of the Royal Australian College of Medical Administrators, had been appointed as a Health Service Investigator.

"Dr Hoyle will work with a senior lawyer from Minter Ellison Lawyers and the clinical reviewers to prepare a report for the Department regarding Rockhampton Hospital's clinical governance policies," he said.

"The investigators will consider whether relevant clinical governance policies, procedures and practices for the hospital, the Division of Surgery and the broader HHS were in place.


"They will also examine whether the policies were complied with and had any impact on the standard and quality of care provided to the patients."


Specifically the investigators will cover:

  • Clinical service capability framework definition, review and compliance
  • Credentialing and defining the scope of practice for clinical staff
  • Clinical audit
  • Clinical incident and complaint management
  • Performance review for clinical staff
  • Collecting, reporting and monitoring of safety and quality data.

"The investigators will put forward any recommendations as to how the health service's clinical governance and patient safety could be improved, and any other matters identified throughout the process."

The Health Service Investigation, which will incorporate the findings of the clinical review, will also commence within weeks.

The cost of the investigation will be funded by the Department of Health.

Natural justice is to be extended to all involved until the reviews are complete and any recommendations fully considered.



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