Family slams handling of son’s spinal injury

Corey is loaded back onto a stretcher by paramedics in his lounge room after specialists in Melbourne ordered he be taken back to hospital.
Corey is loaded back onto a stretcher by paramedics in his lounge room after specialists in Melbourne ordered he be taken back to hospital.

AN Echuca family fears more damage could have been caused to their teenage son’s spine after he was discharged from Echuca Hospital on Saturday following a footballing injury, only to be rushed back to the hospital hours later.

Fourteen-year-old Corey Garner suffered a suspected hairline fracture to his spine after a collision in a football match at Echuca South Recreation Reserve on Saturday morning.

The senior coach of Echuca United was required to drive the ambulance to the hospital.

Father David Garner said the family was told Corey would be airlifted to Melbourne, but he was instead discharged from the hospital eight hours later following a CT scan. The decision to discharge him was made by doctors in Echuca and Melbourne, Mr Garner said.

Corey was put through a range of stretching exercises to his neck, arms and legs.

Corey Garner, 14, suffered suspected spinal injuries during a football match for Echuca United on Saturday. His family is concerned after he was discharged from hospital eight hours after the incident.

Corey Garner, 14, suffered suspected spinal injuries during a football match for Echuca United on Saturday. His family is concerned after he was discharged from hospital eight hours after the incident.

He also walked to the family’s car from the emergency department after a wheelchair was not offered.

But at 11.50pm, the family received a call from the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne saying their son should not have been discharged.

An ambulance arrived and he was loaded onto a stretcher in the family’s lounge room, to be taken back to hospital.

“A higher up team at the hospital in Melbourne has seen the scans and said he could have been bleeding from the spine,” Mr Garner said.

Corey spent Saturday night in Echuca Hospital and must wait until Monday before the hospital can carry out an MRI scan to fully determine the injuries.

The hospital recently completed a $65.6 million upgrade.

Mr Garner said it was distressing that an MRI scan could not be performed on his son, and said the communication between Echuca and Melbourne was poor.

“I was told it cost too much for the hospital to do MRI scans on weekends,” he said.

“The whole situation could have put my son’s life at risk. The exercise they put him through could have done more damage.”

Specialists in Melbourne will decide whether to airlift Corey on Monday, after they see the results of the MRI scan. He spent Sunday night in the surgery ward.

A spokesperson for Ambulance Victoria said the other teenager involved in the incident was treated for concussion. Both boys were knocked out in the collision.

The spokesperson said an emergency services worker at the scene was able to drive the ambulance a short distance to the hospital.

“In order for a paramedic to continue treating one of the patients, an emergency services worker who was also at the scene drove the ambulance a short distance to hospital, as authorised to do so, while the second paramedic attended to the other patient at the scene,” she said.

Corey last year won the 100-metre and 200-metre titles in the Victorian all schools track and field competition.

Echuca Hospital was unable to comment on the incident. The Royal Children’s Hospital did not respond to a request for comment.