Alana Kenzler is not happy with the Gladstone Hospital.
Alana Kenzler is not happy with the Gladstone Hospital. Christopher Chan

Life risked for sake of a call

A PHONE call would've made all the difference.

That's what Alana Kenzler believes.

The 28-year-old spent $17,000 on gastric sleeve surgery in August last year.

Alana weighed in at 122.6 kilograms before the surgery.

Part of her stomach pouch was removed and now can hold only 250 milligrams.

The surgery went off without a hitch.

Alana had travelled to Rockhampton and was operated on by a private surgeon in the Mater Hospital.

Alana expected "intense pain" but woke up feeling fine.

"It was pain free. It was like the operation from heaven."

She passed all the necessary tests and was allowed to go home.

But midway into the drive home, the pain became excruciating.

"I felt every single bump and pothole."

Later that night, Alana's husband called an ambulance.

She gathered her discharge papers with all the details of her operation.

"It's a fairly new surgery. I took all my information in case they hadn't encountered someone like me before."

Alana was taken to the Gladstone Hospital.

The doctor on duty gave her a shot of morphine and performed an ultrasound.

He told Alana that a gas build up was causing her pain and that she could leave.

Alana's surgeon in Rockhampton was never contacted.

A quick call and he could've told the doctor to check for a leak - a risk associated with the sleeve.

Instead, Alana was sent home and her condition deteriorated rapidly.

Two days later and with no improvement, Alana's husband called the surgeon.

He couldn't believe he hadn't been contacted earlier.

He instructed him to drive Alana to the Gladstone Hospital, get a shot of morphine and "keep driving" to Rocky.

But when they arrived at emergency, Alana had to be resuscitated.

"My blood pressure was 50 on 0," she said.

Alana had a leak, she believes caused by the rocky drive home after the operation.

She was flown to Rockhampton for emergency surgery.

Alana knew the risks.

But she believes the Gladstone Hospital made a huge oversight.

"I believe the nurses are doing what they can do.

"I might've had a really overworked doctor.

"I understand you can only work to your conditions."

Alana has taken her complaints about the Gladstone Hospital to independent watchdog the Health Quality and Complaints Commission (HQCC).

While the investigation is underway, Queensland Health is unable to comment on her case.

However, Dr Mark Mattiussi, district executive director Medical Services, Central Queensland Health Service District said the following:

"Doctors make clinical judgements about patient care based on their knowledge and the information available to them at the time.

Incidents can occur at our very best hospitals and when they do, patients want to know two things:

  • That incidents are rare; and
  • That we learn from them.

Gladstone Hospital strives to treat every patient to their satisfaction and patient liaison officers are available in each district to discuss any aspect of patient care.

HQCC was also unable to comment due to "strict confidentiality provisions of the HQCC Act 2006."

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