Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Do No Harm

Do No Harm. Is that the motto or creed for doctors? The inglorious end to Don Mackay's life indicates doctors do sometimes harm. This is not in the league of Dr Patel in Queensland or the Butcher of Bega in NSW. This is one patient and one surgeon who made a mistake, a big one and so ended the life of the person he was supposed to help.

To compound the original mistake in Don Mackay's treatment, the Sydney Royal North Shore Hospital seemed to go out of its way to make things even worse. While perhaps after Don's original mistreatment and his early death was preordained, the hospital staff generally went out of there way to be even more incompetent than the original surgeon. This was a culture of a hospital operating with staff who did not care. Why did they not care? Ask the hospital administration, the government department who overseas the hospital and the NSW government.

Regardless of how bad the hospital is, Don Mackay's widow Therese has recourse regarding her late husband's treatment. She can go to the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission to get some sort of clarity, explanation and a recognition of the terrible treatment her late husband received. Seems not. She went there and they found no problems, even though the hospital itself admitted to many problems with its own internal inquiry.

Therese Mackay has done everything she could possibly do to get a proper recognition of what happened to her husband at the hands of Sydney's Royal North Shore Hospital, from bothering cleaners with questions, to having questions asked in parliament, to appearing before enquiries, to having a death certificate altered, to lobbying the Coroner. Google Don Mackay and Sydney Royal North Shore Hospital and there is so much to view and read.

She says it is her last salvo, but I doubt it. Regardless, she has published a book about the death of her husband and it is a compelling, albeit quite distressing read.

I wanted to polish this post a bit, but tomorrow, Wednesday, Therese Mackay is launching her book at NSW's Parliament House, so there is some urgency to put this up. You can buy the book directly from Therese by contacting her at PO Box 248, Port Macquarie, NSW, 2444.


  1. Don't they pledge to undertake the hippocratic oath? Royal North Shore Hospital has a lot written about it, most of it pretty grim. I've read a bit about Mr Mackay and it's extremely upsetting. I can't believe that enquiries have found no problems. Then again it seems to be the usual way, cover things up, pretend it's all rosy. Ugh.

  2. Fen, it really sounds like it should be demolished and something new built.

  3. Thanks Andrew - it all helps...watching our daughters give evidence...helped me no end!

  4. I guess sometimes MC, that you need some reinforcing that it is not just you going crazy. Other people saw what happened. Other people know.