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Journo walks the scene in bizarre coincidence

Tuesday, 10th September, 2019

Four Corners investigative journalist Louise Milligan. Four Corners investigative journalist Louise Milligan.

By Michael Murphy

The Four Corners journalist covering the Alex Braes story was forced to go to the Broken Hill Hospital’s emergency department with similar symptoms as the local teenager.

Louise Milligan’s report about the 18-year-old aired on Four Corners last night.

Alex Braes died after repeatedly presenting to the ED with severe pain within 24 hours. He succumbed to a flesh-eating disease that spread from an infected toe-nail.

One of the accusations levelled at hospital staff on the program was they never checked Alex’s vital signs - such as blood pressure, pulse and temperature - until it was too late.

In a bizarre coincidence, Ms Milligan was forced to go to hospital while filming the story in Broken Hill.

The award-winning journalist had been feeling pain in her finger a few days before heading to the Silver City, and by the time she arrived, her finger had swollen.

“I was in quite severe pain, I couldn’t sleep the night before, it was throbbing, and I thought I’ve got a fingernail infection,” she told ABC Radio yesterday morning.

She said it was “after hours” and had no other choice but to go to Broken Hill emergency department.

“So I went there, and can I tell you, telling them that I was in severe pain, and it was throbbing and I thought I had a finger nail infection, given what has happened with Alex Braes there, they didn’t do vital sign observations immediately.”

Ms Milligan had to wait for an hour and 40 minutes, and was eventually directed to the fast track clinic. She did have a finger nail infection, and was directed to take antibiotics.

“But I was just amazed that after what happened with Alex Braes, that the same sort of presentation, that they still weren’t doing vital sign observations immediately.

“It wasn’t like there was a queue of people standing up to have the vital sign observations, it was busy, really busy, but everyone was sitting down, and I know in my local hospital in Melbourne, you walk up to that triage window, and they do it immediately.

“Why isn’t it happening in Broken Hill?”

Ms Milligan has a solid track record in investigative journalism. She worked for eight years at Seven News - first as NSW State Political reporter, then as a Melbourne investigative reporter.

She also wrote the book ‘Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell’, which won the Walkley Award and broke massive international news about Cardinal George Pell’s crimes against children. She was a witness in his court case.

She said the management of the Broken Hill Hospital had a lot of questions to answer.

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