When a child or loved one becomes ill, it can be difficult to watch them suffer while treatment is being organised. With time of the essence, parents and family members may feel their concerns are not being listened to. After all, they know when their children or loved ones are unwell. Unfortunately, a situation arose in 2007 which changed the way Queensland Health addressed these concerns.

Ryan's case

In 2007, Ryan Saunders, a boy nearly three years old was suffering pain all over his body. His mother took him to a general practitioner who misdiagnosed his condition as mumps and prescribed Panadol and Nurofen. Four days later, his condition had not improved and he was taken by ambulance to Emerald Hospital where his condition remained undiagnosed.

He was then transferred to Rockhampton Hospital, but his condition deteriorated further, and a mere 30 hours after being admitted, Ryan passed away. Ryan was in considerable pain and his parents believed something was seriously wrong. They felt their concerns were not being listened to.

The Rule

The Coroner found that Ryan’s death was preventable. The Health and Quality Complaints Commission made recommendations, and as a result of both outcomes, Ryan’s Rule was developed and rolled out in November 2013, by the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Service, Clinical Excellence Division, Queensland Health after extensive consultation with consumers and statewide Hospital and Health Services.

Ryan’s Rule allows parents, carers and family members to request a Clinical Review of a patient of any age who is being treated in a Queensland Health Hospital if they feel that their concerns are not being listened to. It does not apply just to children, but applies to a patient of any age. Once requested, a nurse or doctor will attend to the patient to review the situation and provide assistance.

Examples of Ryan's Rule

A woman being treated at a hospital after the birth of her second child invoked Ryan’s Rule when she felt that her condition was deteriorating. She contacted 13 HEALTH and requested a Ryan’s Rule Clinical Review. A Hospital Director returned her call immediately and within minutes of that phone call, the patient received the treatment that she required.

In another case, a woman invoked Ryan’s Rule after her daughter was turned away from a hospital eight times in 17 days. Following her call, her concerns were listened to and appropriate treatment was provided.