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Heartfelt thanks for John Hunter Hospital chemical pathologist

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19th March, 2024

A patient has reached out to express his thanks to one of our chemical pathologists, who became so concerned at his blood results, he called an ambulance in the middle of the night.

Craig Mur­phy lives on a rur­al prop­er­ty in the Upper Hunter Val­ley. He’d been feel­ing sick for a few weeks in ear­ly 2024 when he went for a blood test at NSW Health Pathology’s Mur­ru­run­di Hos­pi­tal col­lec­tion cen­tre to find out what was going on.

His results came to the atten­tion of the after-hours Chem­i­cal Pathol­o­gist Dr Richard Rud­dell at our John Hunter Hos­pi­tal lab­o­ra­to­ry in Newcastle.

The lab has a big rur­al catch­ment, super­vis­ing lab­o­ra­to­ries at Armi­dale, Glen Innes, Inverell, Tam­worth, Port Mac­quar­ie, Kempsey, Taree, and Coffs Har­bour hospitals.

“This can some­times make con­tact­ing patients rather tricky,” Richard said.

“I think in this case, the Tam­worth lab had trou­ble con­tact­ing this patient’s GP, so as the on-call Chem­i­cal Pathol­o­gist I was called to assess the sever­i­ty and urgency of the bio­chem­i­cal abnormality.

“The blood results showed his potas­si­um was wor­ry­ing­ly high and his phone was switched off, so I had to pull out all the stops and send an ambu­lance to get him urgent care.”

Richard said the ambu­lance crew were “the real stars”, even­tu­al­ly man­ag­ing to locate Craig’s rur­al prop­er­ty at around mid­night with very lit­tle infor­ma­tion to go on.

“I think they had to knock and ask at sev­er­al near­by res­i­dences before they found him,” Richard said.

Craig Mur­phy called Richard back in the morn­ing to thank him for check­ing on his wel­fare and Richard was able to per­suade him to go to the hos­pi­tal and get his potas­si­um lev­els looked into.

“The pathol­o­gist took my phone call as he was hav­ing his cof­fee the next morn­ing,” Craig said.

“What a kind and thought­ful per­son he is. I want to pass on my heart­felt appre­ci­a­tion for the amaz­ing ser­vice he pro­vid­ed. He went above and beyond, and I think he prob­a­bly saved my life.

“I am feel­ing much bet­ter now and have reor­gan­ised my med­ica­tions which were caus­ing the problem.”

Richard insists it’s all part of the job but was chuffed to hear that Craig was on the mend.

“Even though the lab is some­what detached from the direct patient inter­ac­tions, I think of all the res­i­dents of the Hunter, New Eng­land and Mid North Coast as my patients,” he explains.

“We do what it takes to get them the care they need even if that means call­ing them late at night or send­ing an ambu­lance to their home if it’s needed.”


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