"Treatment of the very sick."

About: Royal Perth Hospital

(as a relative),

I write on behalf of a loved one who was admitted to RPH with severe breathing difficulties twice in the last month. This is not a diatribe about nursing staff, ward staff or cleaning staff - they were all fantastic. This is a worry about the medical doctors on the Medical Ward who I believe almost abused someone who was struggling to breathe. When my loved one asked to see a respiratory doctor during their second visit they were made to wait 4 days. In the meantime the doctors would order blood tests - and not tell my loved one what was going on. I spoke to the Clinical Coordinator on the ward and asked why the request to see a respiratory doctor had not occurred - two days after the initial request - they still insisted on making my loved one wait. My loved one was getting really stressed because almost every doctor they spoke to would give them a different diagnosis. I believe one even told my loved one there was a spot detected on their lung and left that knowledge hanging - not telling them what it could be. The day before my loved one saw the respiratory doctor, the registrar in my opinion was very rude to them and I felt basically told them off.

My objections to this sort of treatment to people who are very ill and are not in a position to be able to argue for their rights to a second opinion are deep. I am angry that the medical staff on this ward think that they are able to exploit their complex medical history that leads to great anxiety. I feel the lack of communication and respect for the patient was disgraceful - especially if you consider that this is a tertiary hospital. I believe that if the doctors who cared for my loved one don't work on their communication skills there will be more complaints of this nature. It turns out that my loved one had pleurisy and pneumonia - they had that confirmed by the Respiratory Physician - whom they trusted because by this time they had no faith in the registrar who had been treating them up to this point.

Responses

Response from Aresh Anwar, Executive Director, Royal Perth Bentley Group

picture of Aresh Anwar

Dear On behalf of loved one,

I appreciate how vulnerable you feel when you are ill and reliant on others and therefore the potential reluctance to highlight concerns. I would therefore first like to thank you for taking the time to write - it is a brave but important act. I want to apologise that your loved one’s experience was poor and also re-assure you that I will investigate the matter further and provide you with a response including any action taken. We do, however, have a number of medical wards and in order to explore your concerns more fully I wonder whether you would consider contacting me confidentially with a little more information – you can contact me through the Royal Perth Hospital Consumer Engagement Unit via email RPBG.Feedback@health.wa.gov.au or call (08) 9224 1637.

I hope that your loved one is now recovering.

With many thanks for coming forward and hoping to hear from you.

Dr Aresh Anwar

Executive Director

Royal Perth Hospital Group

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