Ruby Chen died in 2012, the cause behind her death is being investigated.
Ruby Chen died in 2012, the cause behind her death is being investigated. Contributed

Coroner to probe tragic death of Blackwater toddler in 2012

WHY did little Ruby Yan Chen die and did the medical professionals responsible for her care contribute to her death?

These questions and more will be asked during an inquest into the tragic death of a Blackwater toddler in August 2012.

Three-year-old Ruby was flown from Blackwater Hospital to Rockhampton Hospital on Thursday, August 9 after she had been sick with influenza for about a week. This was initially reported as her cause of death.

However, an autopsy report listed the reason for death as a "massive air embolism", which is a pathological condition caused by gas bubbles entering the vascular system during medical procedures.

In a pre-inquest conference held yesterday in Mackay, counsel assisting the Coroner John Aberdeen said a draft list of issues the inquest would investigate had been circulated.

These include:

  • When, where and how Ruby died and what caused her death?
  • How and when did air come to enter the child's bloodstream in such quantity as to cause a fatal air embolism?
  • Whether the medical treatment and care of Ruby at Blackwater Hospital, during transport by air to Rockhampton and at Rockhampton Hospital accorded with best practise?
  • Whether the operation of any infusion pump contributed, either wholly or in part, to the quantity of air which entered her bloodstream?

Fifteen witnesses are named in the draft list to give evidence at the two-day inquest, which will be held in Rockhampton on September 16 and 17 this year.

A witness not on the list who may be required for questioning was the pilot. The evidence would relate to a conversation between him and the intensive care paramedic, the Coroner's Court was told.

Coroner David O'Connell said any additional documents related to the inquest must be provided by 5pm on August 31.



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