A premature Aboriginal baby and an African doctor in a rural area -- not a good combination

And only very light taps on the wrist all-round. Must not make too much of African incompetence must we? Too bad if a baby dies

THE death of a newborn baby in a Wheatbelt hospital has prompted the West Australian coroner to recommend that overseas-trained doctors be fully informed of the support services available to them.

Baby Sharinka was only 14 hours old when she died of pneumonia on March 20, 2008, after being born five weeks premature in an emergency delivery at Dalwallinu District Hospital, about 250km northeast of Perth.

Coroner Alastair Hope delivered his findings into Sharinka's death yesterday, saying nurses had failed to properly observe her in the hours after her birth and no efforts had been made to treat the condition that took her life.

He has recommended more training for overseas doctors so they are aware of support services available to them, including a transport service that could have taken Sharinka to hospital in Perth.

Mr Hope said it was likely Sharinka would still be alive if the WA Neonatal Transport Service had been used.

He found that Dr Simon Wamono, who was trained in South Africa and Uganda, was not aware of the service and should have ensured nurses were regularly observing Sharinka.

Mr Hope also recommended the WA Country Health Service regularly audit staff notes and observations, finding the one observation note taken in the hours after Sharinka's birth was seriously deficient.

Observations of a raised temperature of 38C and an elevated heart rate had not been followed up, the inquest found.

Sharinka, whose surname has not been used at her family's request, was taken by ambulance from Dalwallinu to Northam Hospital, where she died later in the day.

The Country Health Service says it has put in place new measures to prevent such cases happening again, including improved handover procedures.


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