Police probe hospital death
POLICE are investigating how a 40-year-old man who was rushed by ambulance to the Lismore Base Hospital died after being found unconscious outside the emergency department while waiting for treatment.
Glenn Peter Rubbo, 40, of Lismore, was immediately taken to intensive care after he was found lying unconscious in the hospital's car park in the early hours of Wednesday, March 2.
However, after briefly gaining consciousness and talking to family later that day, he fell into a coma. He was declared brain dead the following day, with his life support turned off on the Saturday.
His family said yesterday they had been told Mr Rubbo had suffered a stroke.
“I don't want to see any other parent or family go through this,” Mr Rubbo's father Ernie told the Daily Telegraph from Wollongong yesterday.
“The specialist said if Glenn had been seen in the first two hours he might be with us today.”
The Northern NSW Local Health Network declined to comment yesterday as the case is the subject of a coronial investigation by the police.
“A coroner's investigation is ongoing and the circumstances around his level of treatment at the hospital will be included (in the investigation),” Richmond Local Area Command crime manager Detective Inspector Greg Moore said.
“One aspect of the investigation will be looking into the waiting time and the level of serviceprovided to the patient.”
The Lismore man, who suffered from a muscle wasting disorder, arrived at the hospital by ambul-ance at 8.30pm and called his aunt Rosie to wait with him. Shortly before she left at 10.30pm she was told there were 11 patients requiring attention before Mr Rubbo.
“The emergency department was very busy,” Mr Rubbo's auntsaid. “That day there were temperatures above 35 Celsius, so it was very crowded.”
At this stage it is unknown if Mr Rubbo, who had told his aunt that he felt “off-balance”, had difficulty hearing and had a severe pain on the side of his head, was told he could wait outside.
His father said although his son had a history of depression and possible drug use, this had not been an issue for more than two years.
He said the family wasn't interested in compensation as it would not bring Mr Rubbo back.
“I would just like to see what can be done to make sure that people receive the best treatment,” he said, describing his son as a good man who thought more about others than himself.
“He was taken from us far too young. I'll miss the time we had grabbing the bait and going fishing for days on the North Coast.”
Shadow Health Minister Jillian Skinner offered her sympathy to Mr Rubbo's family and vowed to “take action on any recommendations” made by the Coroner.
Lismore MP Thomas George also expressed sympathy for Mr Rubbo's family, saying he had not heard of the death before being contacted by The Star. He said the death “highlights and reinforces” the urgent need for the Stage Three upgrade of Lismore Base Hospital.