Kieran Reynolds now requires around-the-clock care after a botched “standard” procedure

Kieran Reynolds, an Australian 18-year-old, now requires around the clock care after doctors botched what is considered to be a “standard” medical procedure in 2015.

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In a report from the Australian ABC news program Four Corners, Suzanne and Mick Reynolds discuss the tragedy that befell their youngest son Kieran.

Mick told the news program that Kieran had fallen seriously ill in 2015 “as a result of an unusual reaction he had to the B strain of the flu.” Kieran “suffered swelling of the brain which caused confusion, disorientation.”

Kieran was taken to Bega Valley hospital for care, but due to the serious nature of his condition, the teen had to be flown to Sydney Children’s Hospital to receive further medical treatment. In order to fly, Kieran needed to be hooked up to a ventilator through intubation, which was performed by Dr. Giles Ellingworth, the GP anesthetist at the hospital. 

Both of Kieran’s parents were nurses at the hospital and were familiar with the procedure.

“I had absolutely no concerns,” Mick recalls, “it was a very standard procedure.”

Not long into the procedure, however, Kieran’s heart rate and oxygen levels began to drop. Mick said he heard Kieran’s doctor calling for Code Blue, which Suzanne describes as a “drastic” drop in a patient’s observations.

During the intubation, Kieran’s breathing tube had been put in in the wrong place, and erroneously pumped oxygen into his stomach instead of his lungs, depriving Kieran of oxygen.

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Mick says: “I’m still baffled to this day as to why they didn’t realize what was happening. It would have been obvious to anybody in that situation.”

Mick says he confronted Kieran’s doctor about how long his son was deprived of oxygen for and was told “no longer than 3-5 minutes” and that Mick had nothing to worry about.

Kieran’s parents didn’t learn the truth that their son had been deprived of oxygen for a critical 18 - 20 minutes until two days after they arrived at Sydney’s Children Hospital when a neurologist said an MRI revealed the serious brain injury.

An investigation later found that the medical team performing Kieran’s intubation failed to follow Australian medical guidelines. The hospital admitted to liability and paid compensation to the Reynolds family.

The Reynolds also lodged a formal complaint against Dr. Ellingworth: “We felt nobody was going to do anything about changing anything, and stopping it happen to somebody else,” said Mick. 

“We didn't do it for vindictive purposes - we did it because we're nurses, and as nurses, you advocate for your patients.”

The Australian Medical Council, however, did not pursue any action against Dr. Ellingworth.

Now 18 years old, Kieran, who was left blind and a quadriplegic after the medical error, requires around-the-clock care.

“I look at this young smart, boy who had so many prospects in life,” says Suzanne, “all that's been taken away from him. As well as our family life as it was.”

“Every waking day is a sense of grief, really,” she added.“I don’t think you can ever really get over that when something like that’s happened to your youngest son.”

Despite the Reynolds lodging a formal complaint against the doctor, the Australian Medical Council declined to pursue further action.

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You can watch the entire Four Corners report about the Reynolds family online.

Kieran Reynolds requires intensive care since the medical error.ABC / Four Corners