"My experience in ED"

About: Fiona Stanley Hospital

(as the patient),

Recently I attended ED at Fiona Stanley Hospital on the advice of my GP.

My eyes had been infected going into a third week and I knew I required a steroid eye drop as I had this condition in the past. My GP is unable to prescribe a steroid eye drop without a thorough examination with a slit lamp.

After waiting in the outer waiting area for approximately three and a half hours I was finally called into the treatment area. I was shown into the “eye room” where I believe I was forgotten for about a further hour. It wasn’t until I went looking for someone to remind them I was there, to get someone to come and see me. Unfortunately for me I didn’t get to see an opthalmologist, instead I saw a nurse practitioner. The reason I came to FSH was specifically to see an eye specialist. I immediately asked the nurse if she could prescribe steroid eye drops and she said, Oh no no no! I told her I knew that’s what I needed. She examined my eyes and then put some stain into my eyes. She said she would allow the drops to sink in and would be back shortly, however she failed to return for 45 minutes. By this time I was ready to just walk away but still held hope that I might get to see an eye specialist. The nurse told me that she wasn’t going to bother calling the ophthalmology registrar for conjunctivitis. She told me I just had to put up with it and it could take six weeks or more to clear up. I explained to her that I care full time for my disabled child and that I didn’t want to further the risk of transferring the infection to them and needed to be in full working order myself in order to properly care for them and the infection was making my life very difficult and uncomfortable. She appeared not to care and I was sent on my way with no treatment offered. I feel that was 7 hours of my life wasted! You may say it’s just conjunctivitis, but after 3 weeks of extreme discomfort, pain and blurred vision I had had enough and I had done the right thing and went to the GP first. After all, isn’t the hospital supposed to be there for people just like me, a senior on a pension without the cash to spend on private health!

I then contacted a private opthalmologist because I knew that without some form of treatment I would continue to suffer indefinitely. Luckily I was able to see him today. He took one look at me and said, yes indeed it was conjunctivitis, however it was in its most severe form! Without further ado he prescribe an oral steroid and the maxidex eye drops that I knew I needed! What a surprise and once dispensed I had substantial relief within mere minutes of using the drops! I am extremely disappointed with the service received in the ED and in my opinion, the total lack of concern for my well-being and quality of health care. 

To add insult to injury whilst I was being triaged an anxious mum bought her child in with a suspected bleed on the brain following a fall from a horse. Her GP had sent her down urgently to be admitted as a priority for a scan. Her child was disable and without speech but I believe could normally walk and motion their feelings. The child appeared vague and could not infer, walk and was in pain. The triage nurse, seemed completely unsympathetic and I believe did not want to immediately process the child. I was disgusted at the nurses attitude as it appeared that the nurse simply looked at the child's disability and in my opinion, presumed this was how the child always appeared. The child's mum was trying to tell the nurse that the child was usually well, not in pain, not vague with a vacant appearance and could walk and generally help take care of them-self. The child and family were still in the waiting room when I was called through! 

As a mother of a disabled child myself it sickens me the apparent total lack of value that is put upon a disabled person's welfare and quality of life.

I truly hope that the child received a good quality of care when they were eventually seen and that their recovery was not compromised by the triage nurses apparent indifference towards them. 

My entire experience of my first (and last) visit to FSH has been more than a little disappointing. I for one won’t be back again if I can help it!

The fact is you are there for people like myself and the young person I saw in the ED. People that should be valued and cared for whatever their status in life and in my case someone that has paid their way all through their life and now needs a little help. It’s not too much to ask for and frankly I’m appalled  at the standard of care offered at FSH.


Response from Janet Zagari, Executive Director Transformation, South Metropolitan Health Service, South Metropolitan Health Service

picture of Janet Zagari

Dear My ED experience,

Thank you for taking the time to share your story. I am sorry to hear that we did not meet your expectations on this occasion.

I am concerned to hear that your wait time was lengthy and that you felt that you had been forgotten and were not cared about. Patients presenting to emergency are seen in order of clinical urgency. This may mean that patients who are less urgent can have a longer wait, particularly when the Emergency Department is busy. This can be unpredictable as it depends on the number of patients and how unwell they are on any given day. We work hard to make sure that this wait time is as short as possible and I am sorry that in your case it was longer than we would have liked.

Patients in the Emergency Department may be seen by a Nurse Practitioner if they present with the type of condition that is able to be managed within their scope of practice. This can include preliminary assessment of minor eye conditions, as these specialist nurses are able to refer to the eye specialist if needed and can also prescribe medication. From the information in your story it seems that it was appropriate for you to be seen by the Nurse Practitioner given your condition, however I am happy for you to contact me on 6152 3121 should you wish to chat so I can look into it further for you. I am pleased to hear that your condition improved with the steroid medication as prescribed by the private ophthalmologist you contacted.

When a patient has had a fall and is suspected of having a head injury, such as the child you observed in the ED waiting room, there are some specific factors that help the nurse to determine how serious the injury is likely to be to make sure that the patients is seen in the appropriate time frame. This includes information from the GP, as well as information from the patient or their carer about how the patient usually is, compared to how the patient is at the time of presenting to the ED.

As every patient is important to us I will remind staff of the importance of including patients and their carers in making decisions about care with a focus on listening and responding to the concerns of patient’s loved ones who know them better than staff. Your feedback will be shared with staff in ED as we value hearing from our patients so we can improve our services.

Kind regards

Janet Zagari

A/Executive Director

Fiona Stanley Fremantle Hospital Group

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