How did Yeppoon grandmother Ann Parsons die?

Ann Parsons
Ann Parsons Trinette Stevens

A DIRECTOR in one of America's most prestigious medical schools believes Queensland's biggest hospital failed his mother.

The Queensland Coroner is examining the death of Yeppoon woman Ann Louise Parsons. Ms Parsons died following surgery at the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital for a brain tumour.

Her son, David Pickham, told the inquest he believes the system failed his mother. Mr Pickham is an associate professor of nursing and the research director at Stanford Health Care.

He told the court he believed there was a lack of communication with Ms Parsons and her family from the RBWH staff, and a failure of care after the surgery.

The inquest heard Ms Parsons was in hospital for 12 days before being operated on. A situation the assisting surgeon Jason Papacostas admitted was "not ideal".

Consultant surgeon Gert Tolleson was not working the first week Ms Parsons was in hospital and only operates on Fridays.

Mr Pickham said the family regularly asked to meet with Tollesson, but were not able to until her second week in hospital - and then only for a few minutes.

He said his mother was not told she had a brain cancer until her second week in the hospital.

"I vividly recalled when Dr Tollesson told my mum it was assumed it was a brain tumour. It hit her like a tonne of bricks," he said.

But Mr Tollesson told the court he and Dr Papacostas had sat down with Ms Parsons and her family for a lengthy meeting where he walked them through her condition and the proposed surgery.

"It was not brief. It was a long meeting," he said.

"I asked if there was anything they wanted to know. I'm a little bit apologetic she had to wait so long.

"I didn't feel there was any major problems with the family at that stage."

Mr Pickham told the court after the surgery his mother was coherent but deteriorated in the days after. He said she still seemed in pain and was only answering questions with two or three word answers.

Mr Pickham said he expressed his concerns with the ward nurses but said they showed little concern. He questioned if his mother should have been moved out of the intensive care unit after surgery.

At about 6am on October 15, 2012 Ms Parsons's family received a call from the hospital and rushed to intensive care. Ms Parsons died later that day.

Mr Pickham said 104 days after his mother's death Dr Tollesson left him a voicemail to "explain what happened to your mother". Mr Pickham said he never called Dr Tollesson back.

The inquest will continue next week.


Topics:  brain surgery coronial inquest court editors picks

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