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Family of Dougie Hampson rejects apology from doctor who misdiagnosed him

Dechlan Brennan -

Numerous family members of an Indigenous man who died after being misdiagnosed at a regional NSW hospital walked out of the courtroom on Wednesday when the doctor responsible for the misdiagnosis stood to address the inquest, saying they didn't want an "apology".

The inquest is hearing the circumstances that led to the death of Kamilaroi-Dunghutti man Ricky 'Dougie' Hampson Jr, 36, who presented to Dubbo hospital on August 14, 2021, with "ten out of ten" pain and a "popping" sound in his stomach.

Dr Sokol Nushaj apologised at the end of his appearance at the inquest. He previously admitted his misdiagnosis was a matter of "deep regret," and the result of cognitive bias.

Addressing the largely emptied gallery on Wednesday, the doctor said: "I'm very sorry for your loss."

"I wish I could go back and change things, but I know I can't go back and change things."

Speaking outside of the Dubbo Courthouse on Thursday morning, Mr Hampson Jr's father, Rick Hampson Snr said: "I know that the senior doctor that misdiagnosed my son apologised. My family and I walked out because we don't want an apology, it's too late for that."

"I've been hearing "sorry" my whole life. It's time to move past sorry. We want change," he said.

Evidence has heard Mr Hampson Jr was misdiagnosed with cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome (CHS) - a drug-induced syndrome often characterised by symptoms of nausea and vomiting. He had previously recalled smoking cannabis in the previous 24 hours.

He was given drugs for his pain, including droperidol - an intravenous drug used to reduce vomiting and nausea - and morphine. The inquest has heard the administration of droperidol, which has a powerful sedative effect, was not recorded, with witnesses agreeing this was not official practice.

Mr Hampson Jr died on a friend's couch from ruptured duodenal ulcers on August 16, less than 24 hours after being discharged from the hospital with over-the-counter painkillers. One witness described his obvious discomfort as he left the hospital.

Mr Hampson Snr said he wondered what else his son could have done to "get the lifesaving treatment he needed."

"A hospital patient should be able to describe their symptoms and then expect to be properly treated by medical professionals," Mr Hampson Snr said. "Why didn't this happen for Dougie?"

Deputy State Coroner Erin Kennedy is being asked during the inquest to examine the factors that led to Mr Hampson Jr's death, including if racial bias played a role in his misdiagnosis.

The court has heard the diagnosis of CHS was not uncommon for Indigenous patients at Dubbo hospital.

"It was hard to hear this huge list of mistakes that cost my son his life. How do I feel? I feel angry. I feel frustrated," Mr Hampson Snr said.

The inquest continues.

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