"Terrible Medical Staff Attitudes Can Risk Lives"

About: Armadale Hospital / Emergency Department

(as a parent/guardian),

My toddler, having a normal day, woke up from an afternoon nap earlier than normally would, grizzlier than normal. Had no temp or other visible symptoms, so I thought nothing of it. I dropped my toddler and my other children off to my parents for a short time. Upon returning to collect my kids, my toddler became fixated on the TV for a couple of minutes and then began having a tonic-clonic seizure. The seizure continued throughout our 10 minute call to 000, which we only disconnected when the ambulance was trying to also ring through as they were lost, until the paramedic was sitting next to my toddler drawing up medication. The seizure stopped just prior to requiring that medication. Once the paramedics were satisfied, we were on our way to the hospital. My child was monitored and admitted overnight for further observation. The next morning we were educated about "febrile convulsions" and that my child had inflamed tonsils, red throat and raised glands. So more than likely, my child had something viral beginning and to take my child to a GP in a couple of days to get their tonsils checked to make sure it hadn't turned into tonsillitis.

We were very happy with the great support we received from the paramedics, ED Nurses, ED doctors and Paediatric team who worked with us, so felt confident with their diagnosis and plan.

We were discharged and headed home for a restful day. Just after midday I rang the ward to find out when my child had last had medications as they began to rapidly deteriorate (fever up, new cough, very unsettled). Still had the same nappy on from the urine collection in ED the night before (there was barely any wee in there) and had not had Panadol or Nurofen since then either. So I changed the nappy and attempted medication, by this point my child was refusing solids and liquids totally and getting more and more lethargic. I managed to settle my baby to sleep and lower the temp from 38.3 to 36.7 for nearly 40mins and then my child woke up very distressed, wobbly, weak, rolling their eyes back. By mid-afternoon my child was still deteriorating and, not being able to keep them comfortable, it was decided that we couldn't wait another 24hrs for a GP review so we went back to ED. Despite being extremely busy, the ED staff were as friendly and efficient as they were the night before and pediatrics were called to review my child. We waited 3hrs for the pediatrician to review, and I felt they were utterly rude, uninformed and attempted to make me feel like an idiot for bringing my child in and wasting their time.

First thing to be said was - so why are you here? I advised that my child had deteriorated and our appointment with the GP tomorrow was too far away after what happened last night.

Second thing to be said was - is this your first child? I advised that no, this is my third child. My child is not a complainer, has recurring ear infections and we never know, until their ear drum bursts and the gunk leaking out the ear gives it away.

Third thing to be said was - so how many days has the child had the fever. I advised that the first recorded fever was when the paramedics took the temp post seizure.

Fourth thing to be said - so your child was in hospital recently? Ummm ... discharged this morning, from a febrile convulsion last night.

Fifth thing to be said - so the child has a few second blackout / seizure and you called an ambulance? No, my child had an over 10 min tonic-clonic seizure and we called an ambulance.

Sixth thing to be said - so what do you want me to do? I was told to take my child and to come back if they deteriorate or we are concerned. My child is deteriorating and we are concerned, so we would like you to check their inflamed glands, sore throat and swollen tonsils to see if anything else has changed as they have developed a cough since last night.

The awkwardness then as the doctor wanted only me to hold my child and would not assess my child in my husband’s arms. The doctor struggled throughout the examination and decided to give antibiotics, as the hospital had no pediatric beds and PMH was the only other option. We explained we didn't want a bed, we just needed our child reassessed and our GP appointment was still 18hrs or so away. The doctor then left to write a script.

I was not impressed with what I considered to be a lack of care for their job. If you don't like kids or assessing people maybe pediatrics is the wrong industry. I remember when I got a similar treatment from a nurse with my first born, that I was wasting their time and just an over dramatic first time mum. I didn’t take my child back for a problem and they ended up very sick, dehydrated fast and in hospital with a distended tummy, milk intolerance and dehydration at a few weeks old.

It really concerns me the damage that the few staff that have these attitudes can do and if my complaint saves one child for a bullied, tired and stuck parent not trusting their judgements, resulting in critical circumstances, then I've done what I intended to do.

Our children need more support in this world not less, even if you do have a problem with the parents.

Again, the rest of the staff we interacted with over the time we were there, were amazing! Informative and comforting (especially to my child), and understanding and polite. It was just the 15 minutes with the one staff member.

Thank you for your time.

Responses

Response from East Metropolitan Health Service

Dear ‘MJMEDP’,

Thank you for taking the time to share your recent experience at Armadale Health Service.

While I am pleased to hear the majority of the care your child received at our hospital was positive, I am sorry to learn that your interaction with a paediatric doctor in the ED was less than satisfactory.

Our staff aim to reflect our values of care and respect on a daily basis and I apologise that these qualities were not evident when your child was being reviewed in the ED.

I have fed back your experience to our Paediatric Head of Department and have asked to reinforce with the team, the importance of listening and communicating with our patients with respect.

Once again, thank you for sharing your experience and I wish your child a full recovery.

Kind regards

Shae Seymour
Executive Director
Armadale Kalamunda Group

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