An inquest into the death of a young woman at Royal Perth Hospital, who should have been seen within 30 minutes of her admission, will investigate why she was never fully assessed by anyone at the hospital.
Melissa Ann Nielson’s family say they want answers over her death and to ensure her no other family had to endure their tragedy.
The 24-year-old died in September 2009 from a hypoxic brain injury after an unexplained cardio-respiratory arrest.
An inquest into her death today heard Miss Nielson had a long and complex medical history and suffered from a number of ailments including kidney disease, heart problems and Type 1 diabetes.
Counsel assisting the Coroner Kate Ellson said Miss Nielson also sometimes suffered from skin infections because of her illnesses.
About 12 days before she died, Miss Nielson attended Joondalup Health Campus because she had leg ulcers and her legs, right heel and hands had developed blisters and her right heel had also started to die. Her wounds were open and weeping.
Miss Nielson was eventually taken to Royal Perth Hospital and arrived shortly after midnight on September 4, 2009.
She was seen by an emergency department nurse, who gave her a triage score of three, meaning she should be seen within 30 minutes.
The inquest heard Miss Nielson was discovered unresponsive and not breathing about 12.50am.
Resuscitation efforts produced a pulse and she was transferred to the intensive care unit, where she later died on September 15.
Miss Nielson’s father Wayne Nielson gave evidence at the inquest today, where he paid tribute to his daughter saying she was happy and had loved sport as a child.
He said she was diagnosed with diabetes when she six-years-old and her plans to become a nurse and she started to go downhill after fracturing her knee.
Mr Nielson said his daughter was fiercely independent despite her ill health and had been looking forward to getting married and having children.
Mr Nielson said while his daughter had been in ICU, he discovered a "do not resuscitate" form had been signed, which he said had made him livid.
He said a meeting later revealed his daughter’s prognosis was very poor and the family then accepted the hospital’s approach.
He told the inquest he had explicitly told the hospital that no decisions were to be made about his daughter without the entire family.
Dr Hannah Seymour, who treated Miss Nielson previously, testified the 24-year-old was very independent and despite several stints in hospital, had made it very clear she did not want to live in institutional care and that if she could not live at home, would not have wanted to be kept alive.
Mr Nielson believed that if his daughter had had such a discussion with a doctor about her wishes, she would have also discussed them with her family.
Ms Ellson said the inquest would examine a number of issues, including whether Miss Nielson received an appropriate triage score, who was responsible for her medical assessment after her initial triage and why she was never fully assessed by anyone at RPH.Mr Nielson said through tears that nothing would bring his daughter back, but he just hoped such a tragedy would not happen to anyone else.