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Nursing home says sorry

The Age

Wednesday March 16, 2011


A CAMBERWELL nursing home had been "in crisis" after an outbreak of gastroenteritis among its residents that eventually claimed four lives, an inquest has heard.Broughton Hall, owned by Benetas, yesterday through its lawyers apologised to residents and the families affected and conceded that its handling of the situation should have been different.Counsel for Benetas, John Noonan, SC, told the Coroners Court that lessons had been learnt from the four deaths in April 2007.Mr Noonan said faecal samples should have been collected earlier from infected residents and sent for analysis. Had the pathogen been identified, it might have affected the treatment of one of the residents who died, he said.Senior nurse Anna Hunt said that at the start of her shift on Sunday, April 8, she was told of the gastro outbreak, which had infected seven patients, with another in hospital and one resident dead.She said the home had not been able to contact the Health Department and, under cross-examination from Guy Gilbert, for the department, said that no one had known that the after-hours contact number being used was actually the fax number.The inquest began last year to determine the cause of death of the four residents after Mr Noonan told State Coroner Jennifer Coate that the deaths had not been "causally connected" with the outbreak.Judge Coate ruled last month that, in fact, the deaths had been partly caused by the gastroenteritis infection. The inquest, scheduled for four weeks, continues today. ADRIAN LOWE

© 2011 The Age

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