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Multi-pronged probe clears Bundaberg Hospital of serious allegations

20 December 2022

A two-part independent examination into Bundaberg Hospital has found no evidence to support allegations that sedatives were being used inappropriately and had led to patient harm or death.

Queensland Health Director-General Shaun Drummond today announced the outcome of the Clinical Review and the Health Service Investigation into Bundaberg Hospital.

Mr Drummond commissioned the Review and the Investigation following allegations staff were inappropriately administering sedatives, practices were leading to patient harm and deaths, and staff were fearful about raising concerns due to reprisal.

The Review looked into clinical practices at the hospital, while the Investigation scrutinised governance to deliver a detailed and comprehensive probe.

“I take very seriously any allegations about clinical malpractice, patient harm and the inability of staff to voice concerns, which is why I launched the independent Review and the Investigation,” Mr Drummond said.

“This was in addition to an internal review Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service (HHS) commissioned that found no evidence of patient harm or death.

“The independent Review found no patient harm or death from the use of medications with a sedative effect, with side-effects consistent with the type and dosing of pharmacological agents used.

“It also found the prescription and administration of medicines with a sedative effect appeared to be clinically indicated according to existing policy.”

Mr Drummond said the Investigation noted governance and administrative measures were adequate, but there was an opportunity to build upon them.

“The Investigation scrutinised Bundaberg Hospital’s clinical governance, management, administration and delivery of public health services and provided recommendations,” he said.

The 39 recommendations focused on enhancing processes and procedures on workplace culture and reporting; continued efforts to minimise the use of pharmacological and physical restraints; education and training; patient communication; and medication management, policy and monitoring.

“Wide Bay HHS has accepted all recommendations and provided an action plan to implement them,” Mr Drummond said.

“The HHS commenced addressing some recommendations prior to receiving the report, which is testament to its proactive commitment to continuous improvement.”

The Review and the Investigation were commissioned under the Hospital and Health Boards Act 2011 and the executive summaries of each are publicly available.

Last updated: 20 December 2022