Starving to slow death in hospital- family claims grandad ignored


Stricken grandfather Max Miller went without food for eight days after the nasal tube providing him with life-giving sustenance failed last Tuesday while he was being treated at Royal North Shore Hospital.

The retired advertising executive, 83, broke his neck in a fall on March 19 and complications with his injury last week prevented a new tube being reinserted. The only option was for a different feeding passage, known as a PEG tube, to be inserted directly into his stomach.

But Mr Miller was told he would have to wait because it was Easter and there was no one around to do it.

It was only after his daughter Prue Miller contacted The Daily Telegraph in desperation yesterday that her father finally made it to the front of the queue and got the procedure.

“The doctor said on Thursday they would place him on the acute list to get him a PEG line but five days later there was still nothing done,” Ms Miller said.

“He was just disappearing before our eyes and he was so terrified. He kept saying to me ‘I don’t want to die, I don’t want to die’.”

Ms Miller said she “begged and begged” for staff to do something.

“They told me it was up to the radiology department but the radiology department said that they were too busy,” she said.

“The system has become so appalling that people are dying simply because there is no one around to do what is needed.”

A spokeswoman for Royal North Shore Hospital said Mr Miller was still receiving fluids, electrolytes and glucose via an intravenous drip after his feeding tube failed.

She said his operation to have the PEG tube inserted was rescheduled “due to more serious cases taking priority”.

“The hospital believes that the appropriate care and treatment has been and is being provided,” she said.


Mr Miller’s case emerged just three days after The Daily Telegraph reported that 87-year-old World War II veteran Kevin Park called triple-0 from his hospital bed in Lismore because he could not get help from nursing staff.

It also coincided with nurses at Bathurst Base Hospital threatening industrial action because of “horrendous and unacceptable” work pressures.

NSW Nurses Association general secretary Brett Holmes said the hospital’s surgical ward was funded for 12 beds but had up to 18 patients over the weekend, while the medical ward had to care for an extra five patients beyond its capacity.