A patient has described chaotic scenes at an emergency department in the lead-up to the death of a five-year-old boy, who was discharged from a hospital south of Brisbane while still visibly sick.
Hiyaan Kapil died in the early hours of Monday morning, after being sent home from the Logan hospital at about 10pm on Sunday night.
According to the Courier Mail, Hiyaan’s parents, Uttam and Anu, had taken their son to a doctor twice last week after he complained of stomach pains, for which he was given a “potential gastro diagnosis and instructions to take Panadol”.
When Hiyaan’s symptoms escalated into extreme pain in his stomach and legs, his mother escorted him to hospital, where reportedly he vomited twice and was given a chest X-ray and medication before being sent home.
When Anu and Hiyaan left, Kymberlie Ousby was in the emergency department’s waiting room with her nine-year-old daughter, nursing what would prove to be a fractured foot.
It was not a place that Ousby expected to be, given her daughter was also Covid-positive.
Ousby told the Guardian her daughter had been isolating in their Logan home when she dropped an iPad on to her foot. She rang the hospital in advance to seek advice about how to get the foot examined without infecting other patients, but said she was told to enter the waiting room as normal.
“I wasn’t expecting to be sitting there with all these other sick children who, you know, most likely didn’t have Covid and potentially infecting them,” Ousby said.
A mother of two young children, Ousby was no stranger to her local emergency department – but this was “probably the busiest” she had ever seen it.
“The waiting room was very, very full,” she said.
“There were children, you know, with rashes and terrible coughs.”
They arrived at 8pm. Ousby, who works in pathology, said her children were normally in and out of the hospital within three hours “with something as simple as a suspected fracture”.
On this occasion, Ousby and her daughter would not be home until about 4am.
In those intervening eight hours, they would bear witness to scenes Ousby said she would never forget.
As the Kapils left that first time, Ousby and her daughter both noted the five-year-old boy looked very unwell.
More than two hours after checking in, Ousby said she and her daughter were taken to an isolation room, which was near the entrance to the children’s ward.
And that is where they were when, some time after midnight, the Kapil family came rushing back. There was “screaming and commotion”. Nurses yelling for a bed. Hiyaan was “floppy”.
“I will never forget the image of the fear and desperation in that father’s eyes,” Ousby said.
“He was terrified.”
Metro South Health was contacted for comment.
The Kapil family was reportedly expecting the findings of an autopsy exam on Tuesday which may shed light on how Hiyaan died.
Answering whether more could have been done to save him and, if so, who is to be held accountable for not doing so may take years.
But Ousby said it appeared staff at Logan were stretched thin.
“I think that they’re overworked,” she said. “They’re understaffed. And these are the effects of being understaffed and overworked. I feel that it’s just a terrible situation for absolutely everybody involved.”