It is not known whether a coroner's recommendation for the Launceston General Hospital to review its procedures for monitoring triaged patients in the ED, including interactions with staff, have been acted on.
The recommendations were made after the death of Youngtown man Geoffrey Raymond Murray, who died in his home in 2019 the day after leaving the hospital after waiting for more than six hours in the ED for a full assessment and treatment.
Coroner Olivia McTaggart handed down her findings into Mr Murray's death in August last year, concluding the 74-year-old's cause of death was acute myocardial ischaemia related to stenosis of the right coronary artery.
Mr Murray presented at the LGH about 5pm on February 24 with a fever and vomiting.
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He received an initial assessment from triage staff about an hour later. About 7pm Mr Murray was found not to be in the waiting room, when it is likely staff called for him. Hospital notes recorded that he "did not wait".
However, Ms McTaggart said she was satisfied Mr Murray was "at least somewhere" in the vicinity of the ED at that time. She also noted that staff did not attempt to telephone Mr Murray to find him.
"Between 6.56pm and 11.10pm Mr Murray continued to wait for full assessment and treatment, but he was not attended to medically during this period, nor were further attempts made to locate him."
Records showed Mr Murray called a taxi about 11pm asking to be taken home.
I find that he took this step because he became tired of the lengthy wait for treatment.Coroner Olivia McTaggart
During this time Mr Murray also received a phone call from a doctor at the hospital, who informed him his condition needed to be "thoroughly investigated with tests".
Mr Murray agreed to return to the hospital the next morning. However, this did not occur and he was found dead in his home five days later.
Coroner McTaggart concluded Mr Murray died at his home on February 25 shortly after his arrival home from the hospital.
His death was likely to have been sudden, as he made no attempt to telephone for assistance.Coroner Olivia McTaggart
In her comments on the case, Coroner McTaggart said she was unable to determine if Mr Murray's death would have been avoided if he had waited at the hospital for assessment and treatment.
However, she did note that hospital records provided "inadequate" information about staff interactions with Mr Murray and attempts to further contact him between 6.56pm and 11.16pm, with the doctor calling him after he had already left.
Coroner McTaggart recommended the hospital review the adequacy of its procedures for monitoring the whereabouts of triaged patients waiting to be assessed and treated in the ED.
She also recommended the hospital review the adequacy of its processes for documenting significant interactions with triaged patients waiting to be assessed and treated.
Questions put to the Health Department by The Examiner asking if the Tasmanian Health Service had acted on these recommendations were unanswered by deadline.
It comes after a formal complaint was made to the hospital regarding the treatment of a 93-year-old who waited alone in the ED for more than five hours last week.
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