Ryan’s Rule – Not just for kids

A lot has been written about Ryan’s Rule and despite this there remains a misconception that Ryan’s Rule can only be applied when the patient is a child. This is absolutely not the case.

As we are heading into the School holiday period with families going on holidays or attending the various Commonwealth games events this article serves as a timely reminder that Ryan’s Rule can be enacted when at a hospital if you as the parent, carer or family member are concerned about the health care being provided to your loved one of any age.

By way of background the Rule came about after Ryan Saunders a 2-year-old toddler boy died in 2007 due to the hospital’s failure to diagnose and to provide appropriate medical care to him. He died from an undiagnosed Streptococcal infection, which led to Toxic Shock Syndrome.

Following Ryan Saunders tragic death, the Coroner, Queensland’s Health Quality and Complaints Commission (now Office of the Health Ombudsman) and Health department were critical of the care provided and recommendations were made and implemented to prevent it happening again.

In summary Ryan’s Rule;

  • Is a three-step process to support patients of any age, their families and carers, to raise concerns if a patient’s health condition is getting worse or not improving as well as expected;
  • applies to all patients admitted to any Queensland Health public hospital and in some Hospital in the Home (HITH) services. It is important to note here that it does not apply in Private Hospital, although other complaints process are available in these hospitals;

The Ryan’s Rule escalation process is as follows:

  • Step 1: Talk to a nurse or doctor about your concerns. If you are not satisfied with the response, go to the next step.
  • Step 2: Talk to the nurse in charge of the shift. If you are not satisfied with the response, go to the next step.
  • Step 3: Phone 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) or ask a nurse to phone for you, and request a Ryan’s Rule Clinical Review. You will need to provide the following:
    • Hospital name
    • Patient’s name
    • Ward and bed number (if known)
    • Your contact number

Once the Rule is enacted, a nurse or doctor will undertake a Ryan’s Rule clinical review of the patient and the treatment they are receiving. This is where for instance any gaps in treatment, diagnosis and/or review of the treatment being provided can be scrutinised.

Ryan’s Rule is implemented as a last resort if all other complaints process highlighted above fails.

Ryan’s Rule gives voice to the parent, carer and family member with legitimate concerns about the health care being provided to their loved ones. No longer do you have to look helpless from the sidelines it provides a sense of empowerment and validity to their concerns.

Share this article with a friend, family member, neighbor or even a stranger it may just help to save a life.