THE job should have been done with a ring cutter, but a three-inch air grinder had to do.

When Jamie Phipps arrived at the Gladstone Hospital with his injured 15-year-old cousin he expected medical attention.

Instead, it was Jamie who had to remove the stainless steel ring from Jake Laverty's swollen right hand. In the hospital carpark.

"It wasn't ideal but it had to come off," Jamie said.

Jake was very concerned.

"To be honest, I thought I was going to lose my finger - it was getting pretty big."

Having the procedure done in the car park was far from ideal, Jake added.

"I was a bit worried about the lack of safety."

When met by an orderly at the emergency room, the family was told the hospital's ring cutter had been broken for three months.

Jamie's wife Stacy said that made Queensland Health's response (see below) "null and void".

Queensland Health released a statement saying the hospital didn't have the right equipment to remove a stainless steel ring.

"If it had've been a gold ring on his finger it would've been the same," Stacy said.

They were told to go directly to the fire brigade. But the firies instructed them to return to the hospital.

According to protocol, hospital staff are supposed to make a call for assistance to Fire Communications.

The firies were called out on a job, though, and were unable to get back to the hospital.

Jamie and Stacy don't blame the firies. "If there's a fire they have to go - it's a priority. But a hospital should have a ring cutter suitable to do the job," Stacy said.

Queensland Health's response:

Rod Brennan, Operations Manager, Gladstone Hospital

"It appears there were two main problems:

1. Our ring-cutting equipment was not suitable to remove a stainless steel ring. This would require a specialised diamond-strength cutting device

2. There was a misunderstanding in the process to have the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service involved.

Ordinarily, a ring could be removed in the Emergency Department with little fuss. When the equipment is not suitable, the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service should be called to do the job.

The hospital is currently investigating other ring-cutting equipment options and in the meantime staff will be reminded of correct referral processes."



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