Three-year-old Ruby Chen.
Three-year-old Ruby Chen.

Respiked bag fatal for child: coroner

A NEW $1 intravenous bag would have made all the difference for little Ruby Chen.

An inquest has found the three-year-old died of a massive air embolism because her partly empty IV bag was respiked and used to administer saline fluids.

Queensland Ambulance Service was tasked by Retrieval Services Queensland to collect Ruby in Blackwater and transport her to Rockhampton, where she was pronounced dead at 8.40pm on August 9 after her condition deteriorated during the flight.

The air entered Ruby's blood about 31 minutes into the flight, Central Queensland Coroner David O'Connell said yesterday.

If a new IV fluid bag had been used "then young Ruby would be with us today", Mr O'Connell said.

Respiking the bag with a new "giving set" allowed air to enter the bag. The IV bag was then placed inside an opaque pressure bag, which forced its contents, the saline fluid and air, into the cannula in the back of Ruby's hand, the Coronial Court was told.

If an infusion pump had been used then once it had detected air it would have sounded an audible alarm and stopped pushing fluids into Ruby, the court was told.

Mr O'Connell said he heard a lot of evidence over whether the reused IV bag was respiked by a nurse at the Blackwater hospital then handed to the paramedic, or respiked by the paramedics themselves.

Mr O'Connell found it was the lead paramedic who respiked the partly used IV bag.

Maurice and Blackburn medical negligence principal Sarah Atkinson, on behalf of Ruby's father, Charlie Chen, said he was "relieved and happy" to reach this point and was hoping to get some closure now the findings had been delivered.


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