DHB delays responding to inquiry

18:55, Dec 18 2012

The Nelson Marlborough District Health Board has asked for more time to research how many inquiries are under way or completed into deaths or unexpected outcomes after surgery at Wairau Hospital in Blenheim.

On November 14 the Express asked the board for this data, covering the 2010-11 and 2011-12 financial years. This was an Official Information Act request which gave the board 20 working days - until December 12 - to respond.

Yesterday board secretary Mike Cummins said researching the number of complaints investigated by the Health and Disability commissioner, the Medical Council, the coroner, and the police involving surgery at Wairau Hospital would take more than two hours. This could not be completed until January 20, he said.

The Express asked how many of these inquiries involved death and whether they were board-initiated or launched after complaints from patients or their families.

Mr Cummins said deaths and serious incidents at Wairau and Nelson hospitals were already covered by sentinel events reports. These report on events which have generally resulted in harm to patients.

The 2011-12 report for Nelson-Marlborough reported six events including three deaths and the 2010-11 report listed eight, including three deaths.


One of the 2010-12 deaths at Wairau or Nelson Hospital happened during surgery, another after a serious medication error which the board said was unlikely to be the cause, and the third after what was presumed to be a hospital-related infection.

Surgeon Michael Parry stood down from his position at Wairau Hospital in May this year after the death of his patient Jim Nicholls following surgery.

Coroner Carla na Nagara last month began an inquiry into a death at the hospital, believed to be Rachel Riddell, and then announced on December 7 that she was adjourning the process so police could run their own investigation into at least one death.

The Express also asked the board whether other medical staff had been stood down or been part of further action, as a result of this or other inquiries.

The Marlborough Express