Teen injects himself with syringe from Gympie Hospital
A MOTHER'S trip to Gympie Hospital over something simple took a horrifying turn last week when her teenage son took a syringe from the hospital's public sharps container and later stuck himself with it.
Devastated and in complete limbo, Amanda Devine has no idea whether her 14-year-old son Trysten has contracted a deadly or damaging disease, something she will not know for 12 months when testing is complete.
Last Monday Trysten, who has autism and an acquired brain injury from a virus as a toddler, was with his mother and baby sister in the Gympie Hospital emergency waiting room.
He went to use the toilet with his mother's permission and in the short time he was gone, behind a locked door in a single male cubicle five metres away, Trysten was reaching with his fingers into the sharps container on the wall and removing a syringe.
Mrs Devine said her son hid the syringe and it wasn't until the next day he told his parents about it and the Dagun mother discovered a red, 5cm long oblong-shaped raised area on his arm where he had stuck himself.
"He's injected whatever was in the needle into his arm," Mrs Devine said.
She said the reaction on his arm was either: "something out of the junkie, or something he's put into himself".
An ultra sound confirmed Trysten had injected himself.
With the threat of Hepatitis C, Hepatitis B, the HIV virus or what Mrs Devine says could be "anything out of a junkie's needle" hanging over her son's head, the mother can not understand why the danger was so accessible in the first place.
She said Trysten is about the height of an average 9-year-old.
"I don't know how the hospital can have such unsecured bins, knowing they welcome druggos to put their syringes in there," she said.
"The one in the hospital is not secured at all - it's a plastic container that can be pulled off the wall.
"You can actually pull the white plastic lid off the yellow container.
"I'm mortified, a two-year-old could have pushed the bin over and reached it."
She said the sharps containers in parks, like at Lake Alford's All Abilities playground, are much more secure with a lockable metal case and deposit hole just large enough to fit a needle in.
Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service chief executive Kevin Hegarty said Gympie Hospital's sharps containers are managed by a commercial supplier and are industrial grade and secure.
"Their design is such that removal of contents can only be undertaken by the authorised equipped service person," Mr Hegarty said.
He said they were in the process of assessing the details of a complaint from a mother of a patient at the Gympie Hospital and would be liaising with the family.
Mrs Devine said Trysten's six siblings now need to be extra cautious about their shared contact with their brother.
"I've got to isolate him from the other children at eating and drinking time," Mrs Devine said.
"If he's drinking from the same cup as my other children and it's saliva based we risk contracting diseases."
Amidst all the stress, Mrs Devine said her son is not aware of the severity of the situation.
"He does not think like a 14-year-old -he's very compulsive," she said.
"He's mentally a 9-year-old; he's not comprehending what he's done."
She said the family is now in limbo as they wait.
"I'm absolutely devastated that he can access anything in hospital. I go there to get medical treatment and to protect my children and I come out now to have a 12-month wait - one where he may have a disease.
"We don't know if he's contracted anything - we're just sitting in limbo."