Narelle Larkin couldn’t get the required treatment for her fractured ankle at the Emerald Hospital.
Narelle Larkin couldn’t get the required treatment for her fractured ankle at the Emerald Hospital. Tara Miko

Bad timing for break

CLAIMS the Emerald Hospital failed to properly treat a 67-year-old woman with a suspected broken ankle have been strongly rejected by Queensland Health.

Narelle Larkin, 67, was last Wednesday forced to wait in the emergency department for more than four hours with a swollen ankle caused when she tripped at a friend’s house in Sapphire putting washing out that day, only to be told to go home as there was no doctor available to treat her.

She was seen by the triage nurse, but when it became apparent Mrs Larkin would need an x-ray, she was told to return on Thursday morning when a radiographer would be on duty.

Emerald Hospital Director of Medical Services Dr James Torrance strongly denied the allegations, saying “these claims are simply not true”.

“There was a doctor at the Emerald Hospital at 5pm, just as there is every minute of every day,” Dr Torrance said.

“These doctors, along with a very professional and dedicated team of nurses and other health professionals, work very hard to provide a safe and quality health service to the people of the Central Highlands.”

But Mrs Larkin was left disappointed in her treatment at the hospital, and instead sought medical help at Clermont Hospital on Friday afternoon.

She said after seeing a doctor around 2pm where x-rays confirmed the broken limb, she was told to go to the Mackay Hospital for an immediate operation to set two metal plates either side of her ankle bone.

SPEAKING from the Clermont Hospital waiting room just before her appointment, Mrs Larkin agreed it was lucky it was just her ankle that was injured, and that she had a high pain threshold.

“I’ve had two hip replacements so I’ve got strong pain medication but it still hurts if I twist it this way or that way,” she said.

“It’s dislocated, and I think it’s broken.”

Mrs Larkin said while the attention she received from the Emerald Hospital triage nurse was “fantastic”, she was “disgusted” she was made to wait so long in discomfort in the emergency department.

Dr Torrance said a radiographer was on call after hours for “urgent cases”, but when asked to clarify the term, Queensland Health did not respond.

“With regards to x-rays, Emerald Hospital has a radiographer on duty from 8am to 4.30pm from Monday to Friday, and for a limited time on weekends,” Dr Torrance said.

“If someone comes to hospital out of hours and a fracture is only suspected, the limb is immobilised with a back-slab and bandage and the person is asked to return during the day for an x-ray.

“This treatment is routine.”

Mrs Larkin finally underwent surgery on Monday morning, her husband Frank told CQ News.

He said the couple, who were traders at Gemfest and the Gold and Coal Festival, now faced financial problems as a result of the injury.

“We’re probably going to have to go home to Tweed (Heads) now because she can’t put weight on her ankle for the next six weeks,” he said, driving around Mackay searching for a wheelchair for his wife.

“She’s in a lot of pain, but she should be okay.”


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