Boy sent home with burst ap­pen­dix

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By KRIS DANDO

A Ti­tahi Bay mum is im­plor­ing doc­tors to lis­ten more in­tently to pa­tients and their fam­i­lies af­ter a mis­di­ag­no­sis at Kenepuru Hos­pi­tal’s ac­ci­dent and med­i­cal cen­tre al­most cost her son his life.

Hemi Fer­ma­nis is cur­rently in a sta­ble con­di­tion in Welling­ton Hos­pi­tal af­ter his ap­pen­dix burst four weeks ago. He was in Palmer­ston North at the time, play­ing at the bas­ket­ball na­tion­als for Mana Col­lege.

His mum Rae said Hemi was not one to cause a fuss so she knew some­thing was wrong when he came back from the tour­na­ment say­ing he had an up­set stom­ach and had been un­able to eat for days.

An­other of their sons had his ap­pen­dix burst just eight weeks ear­lier – and the doc­tors at Kenepuru had been ‘‘bril­liant’’ – so Ms Fer­ma­nis said she recog­nised the symp­toms.

‘‘I know my boy, he’s never nor­mally a moaner. But when he says ‘ Mum, this re­ally hurts’, we jump. Jared had this ex­act thing a few weeks ago so I knew we had to get Hemi to hos­pi­tal.’’

The doc­tor they saw at Kenepuru, how­ever, was con­vinced it was a bug and, de­spite Ms Fer­ma­nis’ protests, sent them home to ‘‘wait it out’’.

Hemi was pre­scribed codeine and tests sched­uled for the com­ing days.

Ms Fer­ma­nis said the doc­tor was ‘‘ar­ro­gant’’ and ‘‘didn’t want to lis­ten to what we had to say’’.

Hemi be­gan throw­ing up that night, so they re­turned to Kenepuru again. But, in the car park, the fam­ily saw a doc­tor who rec­om­mended they head straight to Welling­ton Hos­pi­tal.

There, he was as­sessed im­me­di­ately and di­ag­nosed with peri­toni­tis, a com­pli­ca­tion of a burst ap­pen­dix, and had surgery hours later. The sur­geon later told Rae and Hemi’s fa­ther Mike that it was one of the worst cases he had seen. His ap­pen­dix was ‘‘black’’ and was close to af­fect­ing other or­gans. Two litres of pus was re­moved from Hemi’s stom­ach and at one stage dur­ing the op­er­a­tion he went into shock.

He has a scar up his navel and re­mains in hos­pi­tal.

They an­tic­i­pate a slow re­cov­ery, with the bas­ket­ball and Amer­i­can foot­ball player out of ac­tion for some time. His weight has dropped from 93 kilo­grams to 73kg dur­ing the or­deal.

‘‘This is a 17-year-old boy, a silent suf­ferer, but he was scared to death. He still is now – Hemi is get­ting the royal treat­ment in Welling­ton [Hos­pi­tal] and the nurses are great, but he doesn’t trust doc­tors,’’ Ms Fer­ma­nis says.

She in­sists, un­less it is for cuts and bruises, the Fer- ma­nis fam­ily won’t be mak­ing any trips to the A&M cen­tre in the fu­ture.

Cap­i­tal & Coast District Health Board clin­i­cal ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor for medicine, can­cer and com­mu­nity ser­vices Dr Colin Feek said the A&M, which uses com­mu­nity doc­tors on ro­ta­tion, was a way for peo­ple to see a doc­tor when they were un­able to see their GP. Any­one with a med­i­cal emer­gency should dial 111 and ask for an am­bu­lance.

While Dr Feek said mak­ing a di­ag­no­sis ‘‘is not a per­fect sci­ence’’ the hos­pi­tal apol­o­gised for what hap­pened to Mr Fer­ma­nis and his fam­ily, and wished him well in his re­cov­ery.

He said they had a ‘‘ro­bust’’ com­plaints process and wel­comed a com­plaint on the mat­ter as it may help limit a re­peat oc­cur­rence.

Ms Fer­ma­nis says they are likely to make a com­plaint, but not un­til Hemi re­turns home. ‘‘ This could be have been avoided if the doc­tor had heard what I was say­ing and trusted the in­for­ma­tion he was given.’’

Med­i­cal mis­di­ag­no­sis: Hemi Fer­ma­nis has a last­ing re­minder of one doc­tor’s mis­take, and a trip early next year to the United States to play rugby is not go­ing to hap­pen now.

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