Shocking findings a mum and successful executive died undergoing heart testing she DIDN’T NEED because her private health fund put ‘profits over patients’
- On May 1 radiologist Dr Gavin Tseng performed Ms Hickey’s CT scan
- Given a contrast dye intravenously and suffered a severe anaphylactic reaction
- Ms Hickey died in hospital on May 9 despite never requiring the scan
- Coroner Simon McGregor said the industry put ‘profits over patients’
Melbourne mother Peta Hickey died undergoing unnecessary heart testing in a program a coroner has found put profits over patients.
The successful executive with a husband and two young children agreed to undergo a CT scan as part of a privately-funded workplace program to examine the heart health of its senior staff.
Ms Hickey had no medical history of heart concerns and after a fatal allergic reaction to the contrast dye used in the scan, an autopsy found her heart was in perfect health.
Melbourne mother died from a severe allergic reaction to dye when having an unnecessary CT scan (above, unrelated picture of a scan)
“Peta died as a result of substandard clinical judgment from doctors at the beginning and end of this program, combined with a misalignment of incentives amongst the various business entities that facilitated the process,” coroner Simon McGregor said in findings handed down on Monday.
“It may be somewhat of an oversimplification but the snapshot provided by this inquest has revealed an industry putting profits over patients.”
Labour hire firm Programmed had sought a provider for medical assessments for a heart health program from Priority Health Care Solutions in mid-2018.
Priority outsourced “bulk medical assessments” from a company called Jobfit and a referral was provided by Dr Doumit Saad.
There were no clinical notes provided and Dr Saad had never assessed Ms Hickey before.
She was invited to take part in the Cardiac Health Assessment Program in March 2019 and a referral was organised through MRI Now with a Future Medical Imaging Group in Moonee Ponds.
On May 1 radiologist Dr Gavin Tseng performed Ms Hickey’s CT scan. She was given a contrast dye intravenously and suffered a severe anaphylactic reaction. Ms Hickey died in hospital on May 9.
Judge McGregor said Dr Tseng was told Ms Hickey had a contrast reaction but did not act on the information, despite adrenaline being available in the CT scan room.
He found Dr Tseng’s failure was likely a result of a lack of training and shock.
He has recommended both Dr Saad and Dr Tseng be referred to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).
Judge McGregor found Dr Saad had authorised referrals with his signature for patients he hadn’t reviewed, failed to object to the program on becoming aware his signature had been used for patients he hadn’t reviewed and/or failed to apply ethical standards by claiming he had lesser obligations because they were clients or candidates, rather than patients.
The coroner said Dr Tseng had continued the CT scan even after reviewing the referral, undertaken another CT scan the day after Ms Hickey’s severe contrast referral and failed to recognise anaphylaxis and administer adrenaline.
Judge McGregor also found a CTCA – one of the two CT scan tests Ms Hickey underwent – was not a valid screening test and is not indicated as a standalone test without other cardiovascular risk assessments.
He made a series of recommendations including anaphylaxis training every three years for radiologists working with contrast and extensive training for dealing with severe contrast reactions including provision of CPR and basic life support.
He also recommended the consumer watchdog the ACCC consider enforcement actions against Priority Health Care Solutions, MRI Now and related entities for unconscionable, misleading or deceptive conduct which gave clients the impression they directly employed medical practitioners, and that practitioners reviewed a patient before requesting a scan.