An investigation has been launched into how a photo of the mauled leg of Sydney’s shark attack victim taken inside the emergency was leaked online.
Local woman Lauren O’Neill, 29, was swimming near a private wharf in Elizabeth Bay, a an inner city harbourside suburb, Monday evening when she was bitten on the leg by a bull shark.
Emergency crews arrived about 7.45pm and she was rushed to St Vincents Hospital in Darlinghurst where it was feared she would lose her right leg.
Through a stroke of sheer luck that likely saved her leg, off duty vet Fiona Crago was quick on the scene and able to create a tourniquet with bandages.
In a marathon emergency surgery, Ms O’Neill survived with her leg and has since thanked her community and medical staff for their quick and effective response.
What happened within the walls of the emergency department is now the subject of an internal hospital investigation.
A gory image taken of Ms O’Neill’s savaged leg emerged online in what has been described a major privacy breach.
news.com.au has chosen not to publish the image.
“St Vincent’s has become of aware of photos in the public domain that appear to have been taken in the Emergency Department and are related to those of a patient injury,” hospital spokesperson David Faktor told news.com.au.
“St Vincent’s takes patient privacy obligations extremely seriously and is investigating this issue as a matter of priority.”
Mr Faktor revealed Ms O’Neill had been contacted and offered an apology.
“We have engaged with the patient and we have sincerely apologised for any part St Vincent’s played in the photos being taken.”
Elizabeth Bay resident Michael Porter was one of the neighbours who rushed in to help and said Ms O’Neill was lucky to survive the ordeal.
Mr Porter said it was “such a fluke” vet Ms Crago was so quick on the scene.
“I’m not sure she would have survived without Fiona,” he told news.com.au.
“There was just so much blood loss. There was so much blood in the water that fish were all going off and jumping around in the area. [Fiona] was just incredible.”
Mr Porter had just gotten home from work and had sat down on the couch when he heard the woman’s cries for help.
“The water was just red. She had just managed to prop herself up on the pool and her leg was just limping, sort of trailing behind her,” he said.
“I’m still in shock really, I couldn’t even imagine Lauren is feeling after everything is happened.”
Ms Crago’s wife Georgia also praised the quick thinking of the vet.
“It was pretty hectic actually,” she said.
“My wife basically bandaged her up, stopped the bleeding. If she got bitten out there, she wouldn’t have survived.”
– With Sarah Keoghan
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