Campbelltown Hospital apologises to 'mistreated' autistic boy

Bad experience:  Stevee Hines says her son Jake, 9, was ‘‘mistreated’’ at Campbelltown Hospital and has taken her complaint to the Health Complaints Commission.  Picture: Sam Venn
Bad experience: Stevee Hines says her son Jake, 9, was ‘‘mistreated’’ at Campbelltown Hospital and has taken her complaint to the Health Complaints Commission. Picture: Sam Venn

A Mount Annan mother of a young autistic boy has received an apology from Campbelltown Hospital after she said her son was ‘‘mistreated and misdiagnosed’’.

Stevee Hines said Jake, 9, was suffering dystonia – a neurological movement disorder that causes the muscles to involuntarily contract – as well as hallucinations when she presented at the hospital last Saturday week.

Mrs Hines said the hospital was ‘‘negligent’’ for ignoring her explanation of dystonia for Jake’s behaviour especially since his medical records showed he had presented at the same hospital just 24 hours earlier with a dystonic reaction.

‘‘The doctor told me rudely I should stop trying to be a doctor and start being a mother,’’ she said.

Mrs Hines has accused security officers of using excessive force to restrain Jake.

It wasn’t the first time her son has had to be restrained, she said.

‘‘Twelve months ago Jake was treated at Campbelltown for dystonia with hallucinations and was restrained by security,’’ she said.

‘‘I had no issue then because it was necessary ... but what happened that Saturday was abusive and left Jake with significant bruising.’’

Mrs Hines said Jake, who was screaming and crying in the waiting room, was forcefully picked up by security officers who held him face down on the bed while the doctor examined him. 

All the while Jake continued to scream out in pain, she said.

‘‘They aggravated and created intense fear and inflicted more pain on him,’’ she said.

The following day, doctors at Westmead Hospital confirmed the medication used to treat Jake’s attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) had brought on a dystonic reaction, Mrs Hines said.

She said he was doing much better since doctors there changed his medication.

A Campbelltown Hospital spokeswoman said an apology had been issued to the Hines family ‘‘for any distress caused’’.

‘‘Providing care and treatment to children with complex behavioural issues can be extremely challenging,’’ the spokeswoman said, adding Jake was restrained until calming medication could take effect.

‘‘While the restraint was for Jake’s own safety, we appreciate this would have been a distressing experience. Hospital staff are investigating the ... level of restraint provided,’’ the spokeswoman said.

Despite the apology, Mrs Hines has taken her concerns to the Health Complaints Commission.

‘‘The doctors need to be more understanding and should have known how to diagnose and treat a dystonic reaction,’’ she said.

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