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Written by Peter Carter

October 26, 2016

The first Socceroo from South Australia to play in a FIFA World Cup qualifier, tragically died last month after his oxygen supply was mistakenly connected to his catheter causing a very painful death.

The 72 yr-old grandfather played against North Korea in Australia’s first World Cup and has been described by his three sons as “a great man and loving person”.

An inquest over Steve Herczeg’s death on September 19, at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Adelaide, is being held before State Coroner Mark Johns. The Socceroo was admitted into hospital with low oxygen levels after he had fallen over in his North Haven home and was experiencing hallucinations.

The Coroner heard from forensic pathologist, Dr Stephen Wills, that Herczeg’s oxygen supply was incorrectly connected to his catheter bag which resulted in his bladder rupturing and oxygen filling his chest cavity causing his lungs to collapse. The catheter bag was later located in the en suite bathroom with no explanation suggesting how it got there.

Despite Herczeg’s other medical issues, including lung disease and urinary retention problems, the mistake would have still killed a completely healthy person as Dr Wills agreed that the mishap was unusual and that he had never come across such an error.

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The Coroner also made clear his frustration with the State Governments newly installed electronic records system, EPAS. Staff at the hospital were unable to access Herczeg’s resuscitation status because of problems with the system failing to load. The EPAS has been described as confusing and a risk to patient safety. Johns has voiced his dislike over the EPAS more than a year ago as it was heard in the inquest that the system was near impossible to decipher.

At this stage it is unclear whether the failure of the EPAS had an impact in Herczeg’s death however it has caused much concern over the functionality.

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