A NT family have told an inquest Joanne's trust in the medical system had been betrayed.
A NT family have told an inquest Joanne's trust in the medical system had been betrayed.

‘I have an infection of some sort’: Joanne's final hours

THE family of respected pastoral industry figure Joanne Craig have told an inquest into her death she was let down by the health system she trusted.

Ms Craig, 57, died of multi-organ failure after showing up at Katherine hospital with a serious fever in January last year.

Joanne Craig, 57, died at Katherine Hospital.
Joanne Craig, 57, died at Katherine Hospital.

She neither drank alcohol nor smoked, had regular medical check-ups and was a keen sportswoman.

In a statement read in court, her family said: "Joanne had faith in the Northern Territory medical system and believed she was in good hands. This was not the case".

Joanne Craig and her husband were looking towards semi-retirement. Picture: Emma Murray
Joanne Craig and her husband were looking towards semi-retirement. Picture: Emma Murray

Ms Craig's family said they believe the doctors on duty that day failed her by not identifying sepsis earlier and by not administering antibiotics until two hours before she died.

As Ms Craig sat in bed in the hours before she died, she sent a text message saying: "I have an infection of some sort, they can't figure it out."

Ms Craig later sent another text message which said: "I'm in hospital until tomorrow".

She died at 9.20pm that night.

Ms Craig and her husband, Steven, were looking forward to semi-retirement from the Mistake Creek cattle station they had spent decades turning from a "run down cattle station into a million dollar business", the family said.

Ms Craig's family said she should be remembers as "compassionate and hardworking", a tireless contributor to her family, the pastoral industry and the wider community.

Top End Health's barrister, Stephanie Williams, conceded doctors at Katherine hospital "made a mistake" in the hours before Ms Craig's died, by not recognising her condition had deteriorated.

Katherine Hospital. Picture: file photo.
Katherine Hospital. Picture: file photo.

Katherine Hospital director of medical services Dr Louise Harwood said Ms Craig's death had prompted a series of reforms.

"Staff at Katherine Hospital were deeply affected by what happened," she said.

Counsel assisting the coroner Kelvin Currie flagged a likely finding doctors did not treat Ms Craig with antibiotics soon enough.

"The family say that if the decision had been theirs they would have asked for antibiotics," Mr Currie said.

"They think if Joanne had been included in making decisions about her own treatment she would have wanted to be given antibiotics.

"As (expert witness) Dr (John) Raftos put it, we would not bet on the life of our spouses."

Coroner Greg Cavanagh will deliver his findings at a later date.