Mark White with his children Matthew, 12, and Emily, 11, is suing Queensland Health over the death of his wife, Alana.
Mark White with his children Matthew, 12, and Emily, 11, is suing Queensland Health over the death of his wife, Alana. Vicki Wood, Caboolture News

Widower suing over wife's death

A WIDOWED father of two has launched legal action against Queensland Health claiming his wife's death was caused by a failure to diagnose coronary heart disease.

Mark White said his wife of 17 years, Alana, was informed by emergency department doctors her four-day chest pains were "muscular", and sent home.

Less than one month later, on November 20, 2010, the 46-year-old died in a caravan park from a heart attack.

The Caboolture-based family was living temporarily in Mackay while Mark completed a plastering job.

It will be alleged in the legal claim being made by law firm Maurice Blackburn that when Alana presented to Mackay Base Hospital on October 26, 2010, she reported a strong family history of heart disease.

She told doctors she had sharp chest and shoulder pain, exacerbated by deep breathing which sometimes occurred with rest, and sometimes with walking.

The doctor sent her for tests that included an electrocardiogram.

It will be alleged that the ECG was misinterpreted by the consultant.

And also that Alana should have been admitted to the coronary care unit for monitoring, medication therapy and surgery within 48 hours, including revascularisation and stenting of the blocked arteries.

The allegation is that due to the misinterpretation of the electrocardiogram, the diagnosis of Wellens' Syndrome and high risk acute coronary syndrome was missed.

Alana had presented to a GP in Mackay the day prior to going to hospital.

The GP was concerned about her condition and offered to call an ambulance but she elected to make her own way there.

Mark said he feels like, "We are just a number in the system and Alana was treated like that by the hospital".

"I believe it should be hospital policy that the readings of these tests, including the ECG, should be checked by not just the doctor, but by a second doctor to make sure they are correct.

"I don't want anyone else to go through what I have.

"My life has been turned upside down."

The legal claims alleges Alana was told to follow up with her GP in relation to her blood pressure and to check blood fats.

Mark said he was unaware of any further requests from Queensland Health for his wife to return to the hospital for follow-up treatment and tests after her initial visit.

He said his wife did not want to look like an idiot returning to hospital when the pain persisted and was planning to see her Caboolture doctor.

The coroner reviewing Alana's death has not requested an inquest.

Mackay Health Service District chief executive officer Kerry McGovern said it would be inappropriate for Queensland Health to comment on this case as it is the subject of legal action.

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