A doctor checks a womans blood pressure at Nambour General Hospital.
Photo: Iain Curry / Sunshine Coast Daily
A doctor checks a womans blood pressure at Nambour General Hospital. Photo: Iain Curry / Sunshine Coast Daily Iain Curry

Woman sues hospital, doctors for $3m

A FORMER Youi call centre worker is suing Nambour Hospital and two Coast doctors for nearly $3m for injuries she attributes to over-prescription of steroids.

But Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service is fighting the civil case, saying there was no evidence the patient still had the debilitating condition she claimed.

Chantelle Fletcher, 38, said in a claim filed with the Supreme Court of Queensland that her injuries forced her resignation from a full-time Youi job in June.

Her claim stems from a prescription of dexamethasone given the day before being discharged from an 11-day stay in Nambour General Hospital in December 2013.

She was started on a 12mg a day course as a part of treatment for acute back pain. The claim said Ms Fletcher's prescribing doctor intended for her to maintain that dosage for four days then reduce to 8mg a day for four days and then 4mg a day for four days before ceasing to take the medication.

She claims she was not adequately or at all informed of the intended dosage, a point the hospital disputes.

She claimed to have continued the 12mg a day dosage for about nine-and-a-half weeks.

The claim said this was despite telling two Coast GPs she consulted during that period of side-effects common to the drug. It said the doctors either gave her new prescriptions for 12mg a day of the drug or told her to continue on the dosage.

Ms Fletcher also had repeated visits to Nambour hospital's orthopedic and physiotherapy outpatient clinics during the period.

The claim said she was only advised to stop taking dexamethasone when she went to the Spinal Surgery Clinic at Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital in February 2014.

"The prescription of dexamethasone of 12mg per day from 5 December 2013 to 10 February 2014 represented an over prescription of that drug," the claim read.

It said that was the reason Ms Fletcher developed avascular necrosis, a condition that causes bone to die due to a lack of blood, in her knees.

"Had the plaintiff been prescribed and taken dexamethasone in accordance with the intended dose, she would not have developed avascular necrosis in either of her knees."

The claim said the hospital and GPs knew or ought to have known prolonged ingestion of dexamethasone carried with it the risk of developing avascular necrosis.

The hospital admitted Ms Fletcher had vascular necrosis in both her knees at one stage but said there was no evidence to suggest that was still the case.

It said magnetic resonance imaging scans showed in at least June last year no evidence of the condition in either knee, despite noting a small ulcer in her right knee as a result of the disease.

It also said the hospital was not negligent at all and did not cause Ms Fletcher to suffer personal injury, loss or damage. The case continues before the Supreme Court.