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Hope lessons learnt from tragic death
The Rasmussens holding a photo of their teenage son Vaughn. Picture: Lee Griffith/The West Australian

The parents of a teenager who died after he suffered extreme swelling on the brain despite their repeated requests for scan say they hope lessons can be learnt from their son’s tragic death.

Speaking in the wake of a week-long inquest into the son Vaughn’s death, Donna and Richard Rasmussen today urged doctors to take greater heed of the concerns of parents.

“Our advice to parents and caregivers is if you are declined a certain treatment, without satisfactory answers make sure you get the treating medical staff to write your request and reasons why your requests have been declined in the patient file,” they said.

“Have the doctor sign this information and then sign it yourself.”

Mr and Mrs Rasmussen’s warning came after their family sat through five days of evidence at a coronial inquest into the death of their 15-year-old son, Vaughn, who died on November 17, 2009.

The Rasmussens spent several days visiting Fremantle and Princess hospitals in the days leading up to Vaughn’s death after they suspected he was suffering from a blocked shunt, placed in his head as a baby.

Outside court, Mr and Mrs Rasmussen expressed their frustration at having learnt only yesterday that Fremantle Hospital had no neurological department or neurosurgeon on call.

“If this information had been provided to us when we first presented to Fremantle Hospital Emergency Department, we would have transferred Vaughn to PMH immediately,” the family said in a statement.

Mr and Mrs Rasmussen said it had been heartbreaking to hear that Vaughn could have been saved had he received the appropriate treatment in time.

The inquest, which was due to wrap up today, is expected resume on August 8 after one of the doctors who treated Vaughn managed to be located.