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Health Ombudsman prepared to review investigation into a complaint of paramedic drug tampering if new information is available

Queensland’s Health Ombudsman has today confirmed enquiries have been made with ABC News following reports of drug tampering by a paramedic in 2013.

ABC reported that the Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) allegedly provided incomplete information to the Health Ombudsman in a matter concerning Mrs Barbara Cook.

Correspondence forwarded to the ABC by the Health Ombudsman today seeks to establish what information the ABC may have in relation to if, how and/or to what extent the office may have been given misinformation by the QAS.

Mrs Cook alleges she was injected with water instead of the painkiller fentanyl while being treated for a broken leg in Brisbane’s north in 2013, and lodged a complaint with the Office of the Health Ombudsman (OHO) in 2015.

Health Ombudsman Andrew Brown said Mrs Cook’s complaint was finalised by the former Health Ombudsman in 2016.

“My office is open to reviewing Mrs Cook’s matter should information be obtained that differs from that previously provided to the OHO,” Mr Brown said.

Separate from Mrs Cook’s matter, concerns of widespread drug tampering within the QAS have previously been the subject of review by the former Health Ombudsman in 2016.

“That investigation reviewed drug and complaint management protocols used by QAS, and considered a full audit conducted by the Department of Health in 2014,” he said.

“The then Health Ombudsman found QAS had commenced implementing a series of robust strategies to improve medications management.”

The full 2016 investigation report is available on the OHO website at www.oho.qld.gov.au.

In recognition of the complexities of paramedic practice, in 2017 the Council of Australian Governments Health Council announced the establishment of the Paramedicine Board of Australia.

Paramedics will operate as a registered health profession from late 2018, after which point the Paramedicine Board and the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) will become coregulatory partners in the OHO’s management of complaints about paramedics.

—ENDS

Media enquiries:

media@oho.qld.gov.au 0427 483 656