What is Ryan's Rule?
Ryan’s Rule is a 3-step process that allows patients, their families and carers to request a clinical review if they feel the patient’s condition is worsening or not improving as expected. Ryan’s Rule applies to patients of any age admitted to any Queensland Health public hospitals.
Introduced into Queensland in 2013, this Rule is named after little Ryan Saunders who was 3 years old when he became ill.
He complained to his mother of having pain all over his body. His mother took him to his local General Practitioner, who informed her that Ryan was suffering from Mumps and prescribed him Panadol and Nurofen. This was a misdiagnosis.
Much to the dismay of his parents, Ryan’s condition continued to deteriorate and four days later he was transported to Emerald Hospital by ambulance.
Emerald Hospital provided no relief for little Ryan or his parents
Ryan continued to suffer significant pain and he remained undiagnosed. Eventually Ryan was critically transferred to Rockhampton Hospital, where, 30 hours later, brave little Ryan, who was in considerable pain, passed away.
Throughout his illness, Ryan’s parents told doctors and hospital staff that their son was in significant pain and something was very wrong, but they believe nothing was done to properly respond to their pleas for help.
Ryan’s parents were worried he was getting worse, but felt their concerns were simply dismissed without any proper consideration.
An autopsy Revealed Ryan was suffering from a serious bacterial infection
An autopsy indicated that Ryan died from an undiagnosed Streptococcal infection, which led to Toxic Shock Syndrome. This was a serious bacterial infection that the doctors had been treating with Panadol.
The Queensland State Coroner found Ryan’s passing was more than likely preventable if he had been properly diagnosed and treated with antibiotics.
As a consequence of these findings, the Health Quality and Complaints Commission put forward recommendations, which resulted in the implementation of “Ryan’s Rule”, which commenced in November 2013.
What is the Ryan's Rule escalation process?
Ryan’s Rule was first initiated by Children’s Health Queensland and can now be instigated in all Queensland Health Public Hospitals, including the emergency department.
If a patient, parent, carer or family member feels that their concerns are not being listened to in relation to their own treatment or the treatment of their loved one, relative, or a person in their care in a Queensland Health Hospital, then they are able to request a Ryan’s Rule Clinical Review be undertaken.
There is a 3-step process for Ryan’s Rule escalations. This is open to all patients no matter their age.
- Step 1: Raise your concerns about the patient’s health condition with a nurse or doctor. If you are not satisfied with the response, go to step 2.
- Step 2: Talk to the nurse in charge of the shift. If you are not satisfied with the response, you can invoke Ryan’s Rule.
- Step 3: Phone 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) and request a Ryan’s Rule Clinical Review. You will need to provide the hospital name, patient’s name, ward and bed number (if known), and your contact number.
Ryan’s Rule does not just apply to children
Many consider that because Ryan’s Rule was instigated as a consequence of the misdiagnosis of a young child, the Rule only applies to children.
This is not the case. Ryan’s Rule applies to all patients of any age who is being treated in a Queensland Health Public Hospital.
Once Ryan’s Rule is invoked, which is done by simply making the request, a nurse or doctor will attend to the patient to review the situation and provide assistance.
Ryan’s tragic death has saved the lives of others because of Ryan’s Rule
Although it is now tragically too late for Ryan’s parents to invoke Ryan’s Rule, they can hopefully gain some peace of mind in knowing that Ryan’s circumstances has resulted in a process whereby others who are going through the same horror and frustration that they experienced, can gain help and their concerns will be listened to.
A mother, who felt her health was deteriorating after giving birth to her second child, and her concerns were being ignored by treating hospital staff, invoked Ryan’s Rule.
She requested a Ryan’s Rule Clinical Review by calling 13HEALTH, and was immediately contacted by a Director of the hospital. Within minutes of that phone call, the necessary treatment the new mother needed was provided to her.
Another incidence where Ryan’s Rule has been invoked
Another incidence was in the case of a Gold Coast mother, Lili Curtis, whose young daughter was repeatedly turned away from Queensland hospitals.
She was turned away 8 times in 17 days.
Again, the mother invoked Ryan’s Rule and following her call to 13HEALTH, her concerns were listened to and her daughter was given the appropriate treatment for her lung condition.
More than 80 cases of Ryan’s Rule to date but more awareness is needed
So far, Queensland Health has recorded just over 80 cases where Ryan’s Rule has been invoked since its implementation in November 2013. This is thanks to word of mouth from those who have relied on it, but also through media reporting of such incidences.
But more awareness is needed, and this is why The Personal Injury Lawyers wanted to post this article about brave little Ryan Saunders and what he accomplished in his 3 years of life.
Are you happy with treatment you received?
In the modern world of medicine, where our medical services are strapped to keep up with demands, so often the complaints of those injured or sick are dismissed without due consideration.
If you feel that you are not getting the right treatment, or someone you care for is not receiving the treatment they should be, then you too can request a Ryan’s Rule clinical review.
How do I invoke Ryan’s Rule?
If you wish to invoke Ryan’s Rule for yourself or on behalf of a loved one, relative or a person in your care, then you simply need to call 13HEALTH, and the process will immediately be implemented.
Queensland Hospitals suggest, for hospital patients, that firstly a nurse is approached about any concerns regarding treatment or the lack thereof, and if this is not responded to sufficiently, then the head nurse is approached.
If still there is no satisfactory response, then they suggest calling 13HEALTH.
Is Ryan’s Rule only in Queensland?
Queensland has been the forerunner in the implementation of such programs as Ryan’s Rule. NSW has a similar program called REACH (Recognise, Engage, Act, Call and Help is on its way) which appears to apply in some hospitals in that State.
As in the case of Ryan’s Rule, the program was developed to aid patients where their family members noted their condition had deteriorated.
Canberra Hospital has a program called CARE (Call And Respond Early).
This is a similar program to Ryan’s Rule, where the family member is asked to raise their concerns with the nursing staff prior to calling a telephone number requesting a review of the patient.
There would appear to be no other similar programs however in other States in Australia at the present time.
Please pass this article on to friends and family
If we share this the ideally we can put Ryan’s legacy out into the community, so more lives can be saved
The Personal Injury Lawyers are supportive of Ryan’s Rule being a process applying nationally in Australia.
We also are trying here to support and highlight this program and the means of accessing it and we’d like to see more awareness of this medical review process implemented for all.
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