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Suffering woman dies at home after Oz district nurses “too busy” to help

A woman died in her home because district nurses were “too busy” to help her, a South Australian coroner’s inquest has found.

Rita Broadway, 66, was alone and in pain when she called a South Australian Nursing Service for help on January 1, 2015.

The Adelaide resident’s call for help to have her catheter changed went unheard as former Royal District Nursing Service worker Collette Bailey told her nurses were too busy to come and help.

The next day Broadway died of a urinary tract infection and heart disease.

The fatal phone conversation has since been released.

Broadway: “Is it possible to have my catheter changed today please?”

Bailey: “No, I don’t think so, um, not today.”

Broadway explained she had been to the hospital the day before and they didn’t change her catheter.

However, despite sounding distressed, her plea went unanswered.

Bailey: “I’m sure if they needed to change it last night when you were at the hospital…”

Broadway: “They wouldn’t do it. It’s causing me a lot of pain still.”

Bailey went on to tell Broadway the nurses were “very, very busy”, prompting the 66-year-old to say, “You know when that happens, I always feel that I’m not important.”

In his findings published on Wednesday, State Coroner Mark Johns said the registered nurse who spoke to Broadway before her death, treated her with a “lack of empathy”.

“I would go so far as to say that in some respects her approach was somewhat dismissive,” he said.

Broadway’s sister Caron Broadway said she was furious at the nurse’s treatment of her sister, but that she’s pleased with the coroner’s findings.

“Everyone should just be treated with dignity,” she said outside of court.

“I think from Rita’s perspective, she would have expected better treatment, being listened to when complaining that she was in pain.

“She obviously wasn’t heard – she wanted a catheter changed and it wasn’t done.

“For Rita to still be alive, she would have needed her catheter changed and a course of antibiotics and that seems like a very basic thing.

“For this to lead to a death is just atrocious in this day and age. And I don’t know how it can happen in Adelaide.

“Rita was pretty outspoken, I know if it was me in her situation and she was standing here, she would be screaming the place down, ‘I want something done’.”

• The organisation operating as Royal District Nursing Service (RDNS) in South Australia is a part of the Silver Chain Group, and is in no way associated with RSL Care RDNS Limited, the parent company of RDNS NZ.

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