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Hospital didn't treat Aboriginal girl

| 25.07,09. 12:39 PM |

Hospital didn't treat Aboriginal girl

July 25, 2009

QUEENSLAND Health has launched an investigation into the death of an Aboriginal girl, 4, after her family claimed she was refused medical treatment because of racism and concerns about swine flu.

The incident came as the state's Health Minister, Paul Lucas, warned indigenous Australians were likely to be hospitalised for swine flu at a rate six times higher than the general community. Three per cent of indigenous Australians have been hospitalised with the disease, compared with 0.5 per cent of the general population.

The girl died in her grandmother's arms late on Thursday in the remote north-west Queensland town of Doomadgee.

Katrina Walden said her granddaughter had been turned away from the local hospital several times in the past week before she was finally admitted on Wednesday.

Her grandfather, Athol Walden, told ABC Radio that the hospital was reluctant to admit patients because of fears of swine flu.

Queensland Health said yesterday that the cause of death was unknown. It is conducting tests for swine flu, with the results due over the weekend.

"If the family has any concern, regardless of whether it was swine flu, I do think it's appropriate for us to investigate," Mr Lucas, said.

"If that treatment in the particular case wasn't up to scratch, it's something we take seriously."

But Mr Walden said: "If my little granddaughter was a white child, she would have been flown out the first day she went to the hospital."

Queensland's chief health officer, Jeannette Young disputed the family's claims the local hospital turned the child away.

"We don't refuse medical treatment for anyone - we assess them appropriately," she said

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