The family of an Indigenous man who died after he was allegedly given medication he was allergic to, is suing the Northern Territory Government over his death.
- T Miller died at Royal Darwin Hospital in 2018
- His family alleges he was given the wrong antibiotics and suffered an anaphylactic reaction
- The Top End Health Service says it has since made improvements to its systems
T Miller, 43, died at the Royal Darwin Hospital in 2018 after he was administered the antibiotic Ceftriaxone, despite his records showing he was allergic to the drug, according to court documents.
The court documents allege Mr Miller suffered respiratory distress and cardiac arrest “caused by anaphylactic reaction to the administration of Ceftriaxone”.
Mr Miller’s family claims the hospital breached its duty of care by administering the drug and “failing to heed the notations” in his medical records, which noted his allergy.
His wife, two children and brother are seeking damages from the Northern Territory government as they were “dependent upon him for financial, emotional, parental and general support.”
“We have struggled to understand how this error occurred and we hope that this doesn’t happen to anyone else,” Mr Miller’s family said in a statement to the ABC.
According to a Statement of Claim filed with the Northern Territory Supreme Court, Mr Miller was flown to Royal Darwin Hospital from the Borroloola health clinic in March 2018, suffering chronic obstructive airways disease.
He died around two hours later.
Court documents allege his allergy was noted “on at least two separate occasions”.
A Productivity Commission’s Report on Government Services released in 2020 described the incident as a “medication error leading to the death of a patient reasonably believed to be due to incorrect administration of drugs”.
Top End Health Service (TEHS) said in 2020 it had made improvements to its systems to reduce clinical risk and improve patient safety.
TEHS did not respond to questions about the legal action before deadline.
Associate Kirsten Van Der Wal at Maurice Blackburn, the law firm representing Mr Miller’s family, said the “avoidable error” had “devastating consequences”.
“We are hopeful that with improved systems and proper care being taken when prescribing and administering medication, that a similar error will not occur in the future,” said Ms Van Der Wal.
Mr Miller’s family is seeking damages for financial losses and costs.