Toowoomba Private Emergency Centre.
Toowoomba Private Emergency Centre. Contributed

$750k court claim: Doc's misdiagnosis caused brain damage

THREE times Renee Allen was rushed to a private emergency department in 2008 - and three times she was released with no answer as to her symptoms.

That delay in diagnosing her with meningitis left her with a serious brain injury and debilitating seizures for the rest of her life, according to a $750,000 Supreme Court civil case filed by her lawyers.

Mrs Allen and her husband Neil are taking three city doctors, the Toowoomba Private Emergency Centre and St Vincent's Private Hospital to court alleging a simple 30-minute procedure could have saved her from a permanent disability.

Toowoomba Private Emergency Group doctors Dr Peter Burrows (left) and Dr Andrew Parkin (middle).
Toowoomba Private Emergency Group doctors Dr Peter Burrows (left) and Dr Andrew Parkin (middle). Bev Lacey

"Sadly Renee had suffered a significant brain injury which it is alleged she suffered as a consequence of the alleged delay in diagnosis and treatment at the Emergency Centre in 2008," Shine Lawyers' Bill King told The Chronicle.

"Some years later, Renee went on to develop debilitating seizures which she continues to suffer from."

Documents obtained by The Chronicle claim Mrs Allen was rushed by ambulance to the Toowoomba Private Emergency Centre on the first occasion on September 27, 2008 with slurred speech, altered sensation in her leg and face, and slight loss of coordination.

Dr Maryann Neal.
Dr Maryann Neal. Contributed

The Emergency Centre is attached to the St Vincent's Hospital and provides emergency medical care for people with health insurance.

Mrs Allen's lawyers claim Dr Andrew Parkin sent her home without conducting an MRI scan because he noted "it was very likely that an emotional problem was present".

Over the next nine days, Mrs Allen was rushed twice to the emergency department with similar symptoms where Dr Peter Burrows and Dr Maryann Neal both declined to conduct an MRI.

"After being sent home on the third occasion, with her family still searching for answers, eventually Renee was referred to hospital in Brisbane, where she was diagnosed with meningitis in mid-October 2008," Mr King said.

"It is alleged that had a procedure called a lumbar puncture been performed on Renee which takes about 30 minutes and is commonly performed in emergency departments throughout Australia, that Renee's meningitis would have been diagnosed in late September or early October."

"With early diagnosis and treatment, it is likely that Renee would have made a good recovery, but sadly this opportunity was lost."

St Vincent's Private Hospital and the Toowoomba Private Emergency Group both declined to respond to questions asked by The Chronicle.

TPEG also declined to respond on behalf of the doctors mentioned in the claim.



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