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Family demands answer because 'Ruby should not have died'

Ruby Chen’s father Charlie wants an investigation into the death of his daughter.
Ruby Chen’s father Charlie wants an investigation into the death of his daughter. Contributed

RUBY Chen will not join excited children in Blackwater this year as they put on their backpacks, tie up their shoelaces and start their first day of school.

The three-year-old died on August 9, days short of her fourth birthday.

The cause of death was reported as a bad case of influenza.

But the autopsy report, which recently came to light, listed the reason for death as air embolism. This is a pathological condition caused by gas bubbles entering the vascular system during medical procedures.

"Death in this patient is due to massive air embolism," the report read.

"This was noted on radiography on admission to hospital (Rockhampton) and confirmed at autopsy."

Ruby's father Charlie, mother Cindy, and brother Benson spent their first Christmas without their little girl. And as another year begins and families prepare to send their children to school, the Chen family will have no such milestone to celebrate.

Instead, Charlie said his family would carry on with a lot of questions left unanswered.

"Ruby should not have died," Charlie said.

The case was still open for investigation, as the coroner awaited information from other parties.

Charlie wants questions answered about the death of his daughter.

"They should have automatic inquiries about this kind of thing," he said.

In the leadup to her death, the toddler was treated for a bad case of influenza, with high temperatures.

She was taken to a doctor's clinic in town and prescribed medication but her condition worsened and her temperature continued to rise.

Charlie said his daughter was admitted to the Blackwater Hospital on August 9 about 11am, where she was treated for a number of hours.

But, after her condition deteriorated, it became an emergency and she was airlifted to Rockhampton, about 6.30pm.

Ruby died on arrival in Rockhampton.

Charlie said he and his wife Cindy believed she had died of influenza but said it was clear from the autopsy report this was not the case.

"There was evidence of influenza virus type A infection but no microbiological evidence of a secondary bacterial, pneumonia," the report said.

"There was no indication that this infection would run an aggressive course."

Charlie said since the death of his daughter he had concerns about the state of health services in the region.

"Questions about their staff quality, viability and funding," he said.

He said hospitals in all regions should be equipped with full facilities and capabilities to operate on patients, without the need for them to be sent to a larger city.

"This will prevent lives being lost," Charlie said.

"Sending patients to the city just does not work."

He said he hoped top officials came to a realisation that hospitals in all regions should be better equipped.

"How can you call a place a hospital when it doesn't even have a permanent doctor," Charlie asked.

"You can't call a place a hospital when they do clinic work and don't perform operations.

"One beautiful, innocent life has been lost over ill quality handling and poor quality health services."

Queensland Health declined to comment.

Topics:  blackwater influenza rockhampton hospital


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