WA government apologizes for death of seven-year-old Aishwarya Aswath in Perth hospital

Australian Health Minister Roger Cook has publicly apologized to Aishwarya Aswath’s family, nearly six weeks after the seven-year-old died in the emergency room at Perth Children’s Hospital.

Mr Cook said Aishwarya and her parents were ‘stranded’ by the healthcare system when she was brought to the emergency room around 5 p.m. on Saturday April 3 after developing fever-like symptoms.

Her parents, Aswath Chavittupara and Prasitha Sasidharan, say they waited more than two hours to see a doctor, during which time her hands became cold and white spots formed on her eyes.

Her parents begged the nurses for help on several occasions, but were ignored. Aishwarya is said to have died within 15 minutes of seeing a doctor.

Aishwarya’s parents, Aswath Chavittupara and Prasitha Sasidharan.

SBS News / Aaron Fernandes

After her death, Child and Adolescent Health Services, the department that runs the hospital, began a root cause analysis of what had happened. They discovered that she had died of a bacterial infection linked to group A streptococcus.

The review was accompanied by a public apology from the Minister of Health on behalf of the state government.

“I promised there would be a thorough and detailed review. Today that investigation, known as the root cause analysis, has been delivered to the family. It’s a confronting and agonizing read, ”Cook said Wednesday.

“What is clear is that Aishwarya and her parents should have received better care in our hospital. They did not get the help they asked for.

“I want to publicly apologize to them on behalf of the government. I am sorry.”

However, the examination revealed that no individual was responsible for the lack of care received by Aishwarya. He also did not find that understaffing was a contributing factor to his treatment.

“The report did not find an individual guilty of this issue. The staff work under very difficult circumstances, making difficult decisions several times a day, ”said Mr. Cook.

The health minister said the government would not release the full report publicly, and instead tabled its 11 recommendations in the WA Parliament on Wednesday.

They include improvements to triage, a clear way for parents to escalate concerns, and more in-depth root cause analysis from the hospital emergency department.

The report also recommended developing an established sepsis recognition tool and a review of staff awareness of culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

Western Australian Minister of Health Roger Cook at the Claremont Showgrounds in Perth on Monday, May 2, 2021.

Western Australian Minister of Health Roger Cook at the Claremont Showgrounds in Perth on Monday, May 2, 2021.


However, Mr. Cook downplayed any potential breed concerns.

“None of those who (the panel) spoke to believed race played a role in Aishwarya’s care,” he said.

CAHS Board Chair Deb Karasinski resigned Wednesday following the review.

But ACSS chief executive Dr Aresh Anwar said he had offered his resignation to the director general of the WA Department of Health, but it was not accepted.

Neither Mr. Cook nor Dr. Anwar would answer questions or provide details of possible clinical failures in Aishwarya’s care.

“The purpose of the report is not to blame, but to try to identify areas where we can improve,” Dr Anwar said.

Aishwarya’s parents are expected to comment publicly on the case on Thursday.

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Linda Stewart

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