Barbara Francis lay on the hard floor of an aged care home with a broken hip after a fall that ultimately led to her death, an inquiry has heard.
Barbara Francis lay on the hard floor of an aged care home with a broken hip after a fall that ultimately led to her death, an inquiry has heard.

Woman lay on the floor with broken hip for more than an hour

AN ELDERLY woman lay on the hard floor of a Darwin aged care home with a broken hip for more than an hour after a fall that ultimately led to her death, a Coronial inquiry has heard.

The first day of the inquest into the death of Barbara Francis heard the 78-year-old was in the advanced stages of dementia when she broke her hip at Fannie Bay's Pearl aged care home in 2018.

Counsel assisting Coroner Elisabeth Armitage, Jodi Truman, said about two weeks prior to Mrs Francis's death, she was involved in an "incident" with a violent male resident who's actions caused the fall.

Ms Truman said staff called an ambulance just after 5pm and again more than an hour-and-a-half later when paramedics still hadn't arrived but Mrs Francis was eventually taken to hospital where she underwent surgery and ultimately died.

St John Ambulance paramedic Jeffrey Buteux, who attended the call-out, said he arrived at the home after starting night shift at 6.30pm and was "shocked" to later learn a crew hadn't been sent earlier.

St John Ambulance intensive care paramedic Jeffrey Buteux leaves the Darwin Local Court after giving evidence in the inquest. Picture: Jason Walls
St John Ambulance intensive care paramedic Jeffrey Buteux leaves the Darwin Local Court after giving evidence in the inquest. Picture: Jason Walls

In his statement, Mr Buteux said there was already a day shift ambulance at the base when he clocked on and he was "dumbfounded as to why the job was held back".

"(It was) another occasion where (St John) are trying to save money by not dispatching crews on overtime," he said.

But communications supervisor Emma Trenerry, whose team took the original call, said while the code two case ideally should have been responded to within 15 minutes, she also had multiple "lights and sirens" code one cases that day.

"It would appear that the crews had been working consistently since a lot earlier in the shift so the day crews were getting towards the end of their shift and becoming fatigued," she said.

"Sending a fresh night crew who's just started to treat and transport a patient to the hospital is, I think, a better option for patient care."

Ms Trenerry said even when there was one car available, sending it to the Pearl would have left St John with only one ambulance to service the whole of Darwin.

"So if a car accident, a baby face down in a pool, anything like that had come in I wouldn't have had a resource to send to that," she said.

In an emotional statement to the court highly critical of the Pearl's handling of the incident, Mrs Francis's daughter Rebecca Kilpatrick, said "no other resident deserves to go through what our mum went through".

"Perhaps one of the hardest things is knowing how mum could have and should have been treated and managed," she said.

"We have never had a simple apology or genuine acknowledgment that something went horribly wrong that day.

"Most of the elderly that are in your care helped build this town - the least we can do is ensure that their final days on this earth are done in a dignified and loving manner."

The inquest continues on Wednesday.

jason.walls1@news.com.au

 

Originally published as Elderly woman lay on the floor with broken hip for more than an hour, inquest hears


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