Inquest continues into Stawell man's hospital death

STAWELL - The heartbroken family of a Stawell man who died during a routine operation at Ballarat Health Services Base Hospital in 2009 is still looking for answers, almost five years later. 

Speaking yesterday after the fourth day of a coroner’s inquest at Ballarat into the death of Neville Ross, 65, his daughter, April Ross-Gaylor, said the evidence had been tough to sit through. 

“It has been very emotionally draining,” Ms Ross-Gaylor said. 

“It’s hard to hear the evidence and constantly hear how your father died.

“It’s hard to know what the outcome will be ... but we are hoping for the truth.”

The inquest heard Mr Ross intended to have a routine echocardiogram at the Ballarat Base Hospital on October 28, 2009, in order to see his cardiologist in a few weeks time. 

Instead, doctors stayed back late to perform an urgent CT-guided procedure to investigate and drain fluid from around his heart.

Mr Ross developed an irregular heart beat in the middle of the procedure and died on the CT table, the inquest heard. 

Speaking of the heartache she and her brother Michael had endured since the sudden death, Ms Ross-Gaylor said one of the hardest parts had been the death of their mother eight weeks ago.

“That has been very difficult because Mum never got the chance to find out what happened to Dad,” Mr Ross-Gaylor said. 

“It certainly gutted Mum when Dad died ... they had been married for 45 years and were the best of friends.”

The inquest heard Mr Ross drove himself, accompanied by his wife, to Ballarat on October 28, 2009, for the echocardiogram.

A doctor giving evidence on Tuesday admitted neither Mr Ross or his wife were told of the nature or complexity of the procedure before it took place. 

The heard doctors at the hospital deemed Mr Ross’ condition “a matter of urgency” and quickly initiated a procedure to remove fluid from around the heart. 

Speaking highly of the hospital and its staff, Ms Ross-Gaylor said it was important people knew “mistakes happen”.

“I need to make it clear that my family don’t lay blame on anybody.  We realise that doctors are human and they learn from all these mistakes,” she said. 

Ms Ross-Gaylor said her father’s death had been felt throughout his hometown of Stawell where he had been a respected citizen. 

“Even to this day, if you say his name in Stawell they’ll have a smile ... because they remember him,” she said. 

The inquest will continue in Melbourne in April.

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