Intensive Care Nurse: Toni Hoffman

By OBOS — April 6, 2009

From 2009 – 2011, Our Bodies Ourselves honored the work of women’s health advocates worldwide by asking readers to nominate their favorite women’s health hero. View all nominees by year: 2009, 2010, 2011

Entrant: Tom McGlynn

Nominee: Toni Hoffmann, Bundaberg Nurse (Queensland, Australia)

I am nominating Intensive Care nurse Toni Hoffman because of my undying admiration for her persistence, against enormous odds, in doing the right thing, only to be openly treated as some kind of public enemy by her bosses and by “responsible” Queensland politicians.

Toni Hoffman was made an Australian of the Year Local Hero for working for two years to raise concern about patient safety at Bundaberg Hospital in the famous Dr. Jayant Patel case.

As Nurse in Charge (Intensive Care) at her hospital, Toni Hoffmann raised concerns about incompetent treatment of patients which finally led to inquiries. But before that stage Toni was attacked in private and in public — and even  in Parliament by governing party men for her actions.

Patel was continuing to maim or kill patients by performing operations that were inappropriate, or were ones for which he had neither training nor experience. That Toni knew all the details of these operations but was told by top health officials to shut up — and that the state authorities eventually funded Patel to flee to the  US (where he had previously been struck off for misconduct) – only made Toni’s bitter experience worse, as well as far more isolating.

An inquiry by  Supreme Court Judge Geoffrey Davies later found that Dr. Patel had negligently caused 13 deaths — and maybe 17.

Today, after lengthy attempts to extradite Dr. Patel from the U.S. (to which the Hospital Executive and State government had earlier funded Patel to escape) the accused doctor is back in Australia facing many serious charges relating to his years at Bundaberg Hospital.

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