Published on September 26, 2010 at 10:46 PM
By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD
Teenager Andrew Allan died hours after being sent home from Northam Hospital, Western Australia (WA) with some Paracetamol by a nurse on the 17th September. He was ill with fever and vomiting but was not assessed by a doctor. Health officials now believe his illness was due to swine flu and are urging people to get vaccinated. Nine people have died from swine flu in WA this year.
The Director General of Health Kim Snowball said, “We've got a late flu season so there's an opportunity…It's important, I think, that the community is vaccinated to prevent these sorts of conditions from occurring in the first place.”
Andrew Allan’s death was investigated by the Office of the State Coroner and it was found that he had developed swine flu along with a bacterial infection. The report concluded that he died from asphyxiation caused by the two illnesses.
Australian Medical Association state president David Mountain revealed that up to 300 patients would die unnecessarily in WA hospitals this year because of over-crowding and under-resourcing. “We're working in hospitals that are clearly not safe because we don't have the beds and resources to deal with patients appropriately…There are a lot of patients who are assessed in waiting rooms and delayed admission into hospital. We're at breaking point,” he said.
Associate Professor Mountain also said there has been an increase in people presenting to emergency departments in WA with viral infections in the last few weeks. “It looks like there's been an increase in viral and pneumonia-type illnesses coming through the emergency [departments] in the last week to two weeks…Now whether that's an increase in swine flu or other flus or other types of viruses is unknown but certainly we've been seeing much increased rates of respiratory illness in the last couple of weeks,” he revealed.