Grandfather’s death sparks family demand for action

Savannah Meacham |

David Bates and Michelle Dunne say their father Russell waited on a stretcher for seven hours.
David Bates and Michelle Dunne say their father Russell waited on a stretcher for seven hours.

Hospital staff shortages and wait times contributed to the unexpected death of a Brisbane grandfather, says his family who are seeking answers from the government.

Russell Bates was rushed to Logan Hospital after fainting and falling at his son’s home south of Brisbane on December 30 2023.

Twelve days later his family made the heartbreaking decision to turn off the 76-year-old’s life support.

His children David Bates and Michelle Dunne on Tuesday arrived at Queensland parliament calling for government action, saying the hospital’s alleged failings led to their father’s death.

Russell Bates
Russell Bates was found to have two broken ribs and a collapsed lung. (HANDOUT/SUPPLIED)

They are considering legal action, claiming the hospital ignored their pleas for further tests.

“We got dismissed,” David Bates said outside parliament on Tuesday.

“We were told ‘You don’t know what you’re talking about. We don’t have time to run those tests’.

“It’s heartbreaking.” 

They claimed their father had waited on a stretcher for seven hours before finally being admitted.

The hospital was then initially unable to provide tests for Mr Bates because of weekend staff shortages, his children said.

Tests later found two broken ribs and a collapsed lung but Mr Bates’ condition deteriorated when he suffered a perforated bowel and hospital-acquired pneumonia.

Ten days after his admission his family invoked Ryan’s Rule, protocol that lets relatives ask for a senior clinician for a second opinion if they are unhappy with hospital treatment.

It led to a clinical review of Mr Bates and his treatment but two days later his life support was turned off.

“It’s just not good enough,” Ms Dunne said.

Health Minister Shannon Fentiman said a coroner’s report was under way along with a full clinical review and root cause analysis.

“My heart goes out to Mr Bates’ family,” she told parliament on Tuesday.

“It is a difficult time and I’m really saddened to hear that the care provided to the elderly father at Logan hospital did not meet their expectations.”

Jessica and David Bates and Michelle Dunne.
The family of Russell Bates is demanding answers from the government over his death. (Supplied/AAP PHOTOS)

The family said they were told it could take up to two years for the reviews and an autopsy to be completed.

Ms Fentiman said she would order an independent investigation if systemic hospital failings were revealed.

But Mr Bates’ children want an external probe into the system’s alleged shortcomings.

“We want this recognised that our dad didn’t pass from old age on his own but severe neglect, systems, lack of resources led to his passing,” Ms Dunne said.

Queensland Metro South Health service expressed its sympathy for the Bates family and said a comprehensive review was under way.

“We will move the root cause analysis along very quickly so we can get it done in the shortest possible time,” a spokesman said.

Opposition health spokesperson Ros Bates called for an immediate independent investigation.