FAMILY SUPPORT: David Saunders and his wife Rebecca with two of their three children Shakira and Shontai (sitting).
FAMILY SUPPORT: David Saunders and his wife Rebecca with two of their three children Shakira and Shontai (sitting).

Imminent stroke victim sent home with painkillers

FIT, young and happy only weeks ago, 35-year-old family man David Saunders was a picture of health.

However in a few short weeks, David went from young quarry supervisor to stroke victim.

Losing the most mobility in the left side of his body just hours after he sought help from Warwick Hospital, David and his family are now asking what went wrong.

Arriving at Warwick Hospital with complaints of neck pain just before Christmas, he was diagnosed with a pinched nerve, given pain killers and sent home.

The ache continued to persist into January, the pain so bad David continued visiting the hospital daily.

Unable to properly move the left side of his body and still without any examinations, he was given the same response.

"They just kept sending him home with pain killers, but he knew his body was failing him," his wife Rebecca Duff-Saunders told the Daily News.

Fed up, on January 30 the Saunders' pursued a physiotherapist in the hopes of fixing the supposed "pinched nerve".

After examination the physio said he wouldn't work on David, but said he urgently needed a CAT scan.

David then travelled to Toowoomba to have a scan.

That Saturday, the couple waited at Warwick Hospital for five hours, only to be told that a radiologist wasn't present to read the scan, and they were sent home.

On February 1, David blacked out and was rushed to hospital by ambulance.

Not seen by a doctor, he was given a needle by the nurse on duty and discharged only hours later.

By 11am the next day, he had completely lost function of the left side of his body.

"It's terrible to watch one of your loved ones go downhill so fast. We knew something was wrong," his wife said.

Returning to hospital in his worsened state, David waited a staggering six hours to be seen.

Transferred to Toowoomba, a scan revealed the Warwick man had suffered a stroke which dated back 40 days.

"It was an eye-opener being in Toowoomba and seeing just how well they worked," Rebecca said.

Medical professionals found a 1cm lesion on his brain.

"I don't think (Warwick Hospital emergency staff) care; Toowoomba Hospital staff told us to take it further," Rebecca said.

"Everywhere I look it says strokes are emergencies; why did it take 40 days?"

Staying at Toowoomba Hospital for four nights, staff advised them to take this issue further.

Upon returning home, David suffered another blackout and was taken to Warwick Hospital.

His family GP advised the doctors to send him to Toowoomba for treatment immediately.

Rebecca said the advice was ignored, and her husband was discharged for home that morning.

Queensland Minister for Health Lawrence Springborg has launched an independent investigation into David's case.

"The family has my assurances, as does the Warwick community, that a full, independent investigation will be conducted into the circumstances surrounding this case," Mr Springborg said.

"I have asked the Darling Downs HHS to submit a copy of its review to the Office of the Director General to provide advice to me."

The family claimed to have contacted the Warwick Hospital Director of Nursing multiple times but received no response. "We will be perusing this further once he is back on his feet," Rebecca vowed.

The family has approached legal teams in recent days.

Health service will investigate issue

DARLING Downs Hospital and Health Service Director of Clinical Governance Dr Martin Byrne said he was "keen to discuss the issues raised and obtain the patient's perspective".

Dr Byrne responded to the Daily News queries stating: "The Darling Downs Hospital and Health Service (DDHHS) takes all complaints seriously.

"These matters have not been previously raised with us.

"The patient has not authorised us to discuss his case.

"This patient's care has been urgently reviewed this afternoon by doctors independent of Warwick Hospital.

"A formal review of the care will occur by independent staff."

Stroke facts

 10-15% of strokes happen in people under age 45. However 1 in 7 is misdiagnosed as a less serious medical condition.

 No matter how old you are, use FAST to remember the classic warning signs:

FACE: Does one side of your face droop? Can you smile? Suddenly developing numbness, weakness, or paralysis on one side of your face is a major red flag.

ARMS: Is one arm weak or numb? Can you raise both arms? Stroke victims often find that one arm feels limp or sags when they try to lift them both.

SPEECH: Is your speech slurred? Can you repeat a simple phrase? You may be unable to find the right words to explain what's happening to you.

TIME: If you have any of these symptoms, call 000 immediately. The faster you get help, the better your chances are of survival and recovery.

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