"Treating an infected finger"

About: Sydney / Sydney Eye Hospital / 2 West & Hand Clinic

(as the patient),

On my first visit to the Sydney Hospital (Hand Clinic) I had to have my infected finger treated.

I feel the doctor who saw me provided some of the worst care I have ever received either at a hospital or a doctor’s office.

Before cutting open my finger, they had me sitting up with my hand on a table. I had stated that I become queasy when seeing pus and blood, and it was only after another doctor intervened that they had me lay down in case I fainted. They also had to give me a local anaesthetic twice, as the initial dose wasn’t enough.

A different doctor suggested to cut into the infected area, but the initial doctor decided not to go with that option. Instead they made the incision from the cuticle by opening above the nail.

Within less than 30 minutes the local anaesthetic was wearing off, and I had mentioned to the doctor the level of pain that was causing and asked for painkillers asap. The reply from the doctor was “you just have to wear it”. Shocked at this response, I had to request painkillers 2 more times before they were willing to give me any.

Whilst cutting the finger, the initial doctor also appeared distracted as they were discussing how hungry they were as well as other conversations within the clinic.

I also had to ask multiple times when the next visit would be, as they seemed distracted. I asked if there was anything I should do before the next visit, as I thought 6 days without changing the dressing was too long.

On the next visit a separate doctor inspected the finger. Due to the swelling and bruising, an operation would be required to have it cleaned, because of the 6 days in between visits. The only time I saw the initial doctor again was on my next visit, whilst I was sitting with a different surgeon.  They said they had an attempt and didn’t do a very good job on the finger, then promptly walked away.

This took 3 weeks of my time, for which I was not been able to work or receive pay due to the botched operation of the initial doctor.

The care provided by all the nurses and surgeons (excluding the initial doctor) was exemplary, and I do not want them to be tainted by the actions of what I believe was an incompetent doctor.

I do not want monetary compensation for the 3 weeks I was not able to work, only to ensure that no other patient needs to go through a similar experience. Whilst it may seem like it is just a finger, I effectively could not use my hand for 2 of those 3 weeks.

Responses

Response from Tobi Wilson, Chief Executive Officer, South Eastern Sydney Local Health District

picture of Tobi Wilson

Dear Aloha,

First of all let me say how sorry I am to read your story. I would like to apologise for your experience within the Sydney Hospital Hand Clinic. The standard of care and experience you describe falls short of all our expectations of patient care.

As you understand you offer your story anonymously and I do not know any specific details. I would appreciate the opportunity to follow up with you in more detail to allow us to further investigate so that we can ensure we are able to improve the care that we offer.

I would also like to acknowledge your comments on the other staff as being exemplary and will be forwarding your comments onto them.

I trust that you are recovering well following surgery.

I encourage you to contact us on SESLHD-SSEHMedicalAdmin@health.nsw.gov.au

Regards,

Tobi

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Response from Jennie Barry, General Manager, Prince of Wales/Sydney/Sydney Eye Hospital

Dear Aloha,

I would like to thank you for contacting us further with your story, the insights you have provided have been a valuable experience for us. We trust that the subsequent care you received has lead you to a full recovery.

Kind Regards

Jennie

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