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My father slipped through the cracks of the system

My father had end stage renal disease and had been on dialysis for ten years at Flinders Medical Centre. When he became hospitalised, the decision was made to withdraw him from treatment and so I asked his attending doctor at FMC that he be reviewed by the palliative care team to ensure that his final days were comfortable.

The palliative care team were not notified and my father's pain was treated with intravenous morphine. I requested that he be given a syringe driver to slowly administer the morphine because the 'as needed' bolus morphine injections he was receiving were making his symptoms swing from difficulty breathing (too much morphine) to unresolved pain (too little morphine). Syringe drivers also have a mixture of maxalon to treat morphine induced nausea, and midazolam, a muscle relaxant which enables the morphine dose to be reduced.
My request for a syringe driver was ignored and my father died from an accidental overdose of morphine when his nurse gave him a bolus injection when he was in agony. This traumatised the nurse who administered the fatal bolus dose and was a shock to my mother and sisters who were with him and had requested that his pain be treated.
This happened over ten years ago and remains a haunting memory of my father's death. Ironically, the simple provision of a syringe driver would have made the nurses' job easier as the drivers only need topping up once a day. I understand that palliative care teams are in demand and underfunded, but I would like to see more doctors and nurses trained to to prescribe and administer syringe drivers, thank you.

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