Halls Head family call for mandatory blood tests after Peel Health Campus fails in leukemia diagnosis

CALL FOR CHANGE: Katrina Galipo and Daniel Turner say Peel Health Campus could have identified their four-year-old Zandyr's condition with a simple blood test. Photo: Gareth McKnight.
CALL FOR CHANGE: Katrina Galipo and Daniel Turner say Peel Health Campus could have identified their four-year-old Zandyr's condition with a simple blood test. Photo: Gareth McKnight.

A Halls Head family have hit out at Peel Health Campus' protocols after their four-year-old son's leukemia was not identified during two visits to the Mandurah hospital.

Katrina Galipo and Daniel Turner were concerned when their son Zandyr's leg pain was so bad he could not walk.

After two presentations and x-rays at Peel Health Campus, the family were sent home with painkillers.

However, when they took Zandyr to Perth Children's Hospital shortly after, a blood test showed he had acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Ms Galipo said it had been a traumatic experience.

"Zandyr said his leg hurt, to the point he stopped walking," she said.

"They gave him pain relief and sent us home.

"A few days later the pain got really bad and he stopped walking again, to the point he was having Panadol non-stop.

"We took him back to the hospital and they did more x-rays - they had no idea what was wrong.

"In the end they said they might put a cast on his leg as it could be a greenstick fracture, which sometimes doesn't show up on x-rays.

"I didn't feel comfortable with the amount of pain relief he was on. He was essentially bed-ridden because when the pain would hit he couldn't walk."

Ms Galipo said with Zandyr's pain starting again afterwards, they made the decision to go to Perth Children's Hospital.

"The doctor noticed he was very pale and ran a blood test," she said.

"They found that his haemoglobin was very low and that he needed a blood transfusion.

"Two doctors took Dan and I into a separate room and told us they'd found abnormal leukaemic cells.

"I don't know how to describe it - it was the last thing we expected. It is horrible."

After multiple oncology meetings, Zandyr has undergone outpatient chemotherapy.

Ms Galipo said the family had written a complaint to Peel Health Campus and the hospital's protocols should change.

"The reason a blood test was not undertaken was it is not hospital protocol for unidentified pain," she said.

"We want to change the emergency room protocols for unexplained bone pain - it should include a mandatory blood test.

"I'm not angry at Peel or the emergency staff or doctors - they are doing the best they can.

"The issue is that they are badly under-staffed and their protocol didn't cover a blood test, which would have been critical in identifying this."

Peel Health Campus acting chief executive Karol Edge said she was saddened for the family and sympathised with the distress they were going through with Zandyr's diagnosis.

"Whilst we cannot provide specific information relating to individuals due to patient privacy, what we can say is that the decision to run blood tests in any Emergency Department is always made based on clinical symptoms and patient history," she said.

"In this case, at the time of attendance, those factors did not indicate the need for the blood test."

Ms Galipo and Mr Turner have started a petition to change protocols at WA hospitals to include a mandatory blood test for unidentified pain. For more information click here.