Hospital Probe After Toddler’s Undiagnosed Cancer Death

‘We need all health service providers and operators to make sure they do their very best to ensure that there’s clinical excellence.’
Hospital Probe After Toddler’s Undiagnosed Cancer Death
Baby Relaxes During Bath

The death of a toddler from undiagnosed blood cancer has prompted a review by an independent expert panel of pediatric emergency care at a public hospital in Perth.

Sandipan Dhar died at the Joondalup Health Campus on March 24, weeks after developing a mild fever following vaccinations.

His parents, Sanjoy and Saraswati Dhar, say they asked for a blood test at the hospital on March 22 but a senior doctor refused to do it.

Private operator Ramsay Health Care, which runs the campus, announced a review on June 13 of pediatric emergency services at Joondalup.

An independent expert panel of non-Ramsay pediatric emergency specialists from the eastern states will carry out the work.

State manager Shane Kelly said although he believed the hospital was doing a good job, the review would help identify any problems and recommend areas for improvement.

“The independent specialists will look at Joondalup Health Campus clinical guidelines, policies, procedures and processes in the pediatric emergency service area, as well as staffing mix and development,” he said.

“Communication with parents will form a key part of this review with the panel expected to engage with families, staff and management as part of the process.”

Premier Roger Cook said Ramsay should “look at what went wrong” and learn from it “so it doesn’t happen again” and provide answers to Sandipan’s family.

“We need all health service providers and operators to make sure they do their very best to ensure that there’s clinical excellence,” he said.

Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson met with Mr. Kelly on June 13 and requested a Department of Health representative be part of the review.

“This is a case of parents who are not being heard,” she said.

“Parents’ concerns need to be seriously taken into consideration.”

“They generally know if it’s a sniffle or a virus or something more serious.”

Mr. Dhar previously told The West Australian newspaper the coroner had advised that Sandipan died from complications of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, which is the most common form of childhood cancer.

When diagnosed and treated early it has a survival rate of about 90 percent.

On March 22, Sandipan was taken to Joondalup Health Campus, where his parents say they spent six hours asking for a blood test but were advised to return home.

His parents took the 21-month-old back to the hospital two days later after he began coughing and lost his appetite.

Sandipan’s condition deteriorated and he died at the hospital a few hours later.

The on-site review, which is supported by senior clinicians, is expected to start in July.

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