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Without Due Care: An Australian Hospital Tragedy

Medical negligence is a subject no one wants to talk about until it happens to them. An Australian woman is demanding answers to ‘what went wrong’ with her late husband's treatment and care in a Sydney public hospital that led to his untimely and unnecessary death.

In the book Without Due Care: An Australian Hospital Tragedy, Therese Mackay recounts her horrific experience with the reality that is medical negligence in the land down under.

It is the story of a quadriplegic man’s shocking medical abuse and death at the hands of the diseased and unaccountable Australian Health Care System. That man was her husband Don Mackay.

Lorraine Long, founder of the Medical Error Action Group states in the foreward of the book:

No bereaved family with iatrogenesis the cause of death should have to steer the investigation to find the truth.The Mackay family so did. But those people in power who failed to exercise their statutory duty and do what is right did not consider that the Mackay family's efforts in wanting justice for Don would help others encountering the same tragedy when their loved ones too die from medical negligence.

The New South Wales health system let Don Mackay down. His family did not.

Therese Mackay goes into great detail throughout the paperback, detailing Don's quadriplegia, his medical treatment, hospital admission, and the catalogue of errors that led to his respiratory arrest, intensive care, numerous infections, tracheotomy and eventually the path that led to his demise.

In one of the chapters, while defining Don's uniqueness, Mackay states that the book was her way of giving her late husband a voice to record the injustices done to him and to bring to those responsible for his death, the reality of what their actions did to one remarkable human being and his grief-stricken family. "Don’s life was worthwhile and we all loved him dearly, but it was he who projected love onto us all. For that we will always be grateful, and will miss him forever," she wrote.

In later chapters she discusses the reports from the Sydney hospital, the petition, the health care complaints commission process, and the altering of Don's death certificate.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO, Australia has the highest rate of medical error in the world. According to Medical Negligence in Australia:

  • 18,000 people may die every year in hospitals through preventable medical negligence in Australia

  • 50,000 people suffer from permanent injury annually as a result of medical negligence in Australia.

  • 80,000 Australian patients per year are hospitalised due to medication errors.

A medical error is considered "negligent" if the healthcare practitioner has failed to take "reasonable care". The laws in Australia require that doctors take "reasonable care" in treating and advising patients. This is not a high or impossible standard to achieve. Yet according to all the evidence presented by Therese Mackay, unreasonable care is precisely what her husband fell victim to at the hands of those who were supposedly trained to care for his health.

According to the WHO, studies estimate the probability of patients suffering measurable harm in acute care hospitals at an alarming 16.6% in Australia, 3.8% in the United States, and around 10% in Denmark, the United Kingdom and a number of other European countries.

Overall, Without Due Care: An Australian Hospital Tragedy is a poignant and heart-felt depiction on the realities of medical negligence. Ultimately, it translates a tragedy into an excellent interpretation of a very real problem in Australia and addresses many significant questions that need answers.

How do vulnerable patients get the support systems they need from degraded health care systems which can no longer be trusted to offer them? How many more Don Mackays will it take to rebuild a system that is not only broken, but shattered?

A beautiful man,
who gave and fought for others with courage and strength;
noble, loyal, passionate and determined.
Kept the child at heart and filled our lives with laughter.
So good, yet so naughty; so free, yet so confined.
A beaming smile and twinkling eyes,
his light burned so brightly.’

- Written by Don's daughters, Melissa and Alison

Visit the Without Due Care Website

If you would like a copy of the book please contact:

PO Box 248
Port Macquarie NSW 2444

($27.96AUD + $6 P&H)

Reference Sources
September 27, 2010


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