"Complications from cataract surgery"

About: Ipswich Hospital / Emergency Department

(as a relative),

My mother had her second cataract removed after an uncomplicated first surgery.

This time she was in pain immediately as the local anesthetic wore off. She was crying with the pain. She took Advil and panadeine before me taking her to the Ipswich ED. There were already people there waiting when we arrived at around 10 pm.

Straight away, in my opinion, we were made to feel like garbage. Behind a security screen, a nurse on a computer barely looked up and appeared to need convincing that we were worthy of a doctor's attention. After telling this nurse the details and then getting my mother, who had her eyes shut and needed to be guided through the waiting room, up to triage, we were told to wait. How a triage nurse could assess the severity of a condition from behind glass covered in signs telling us that they will call the cops if they get any abuse is beyond me. My mother could have had a major problem but they never once came to look at her eye which she kept shut the entire time. 

They wanted medicare details, which I was told to give at another window. By now I was extremely annoyed.

On several occasions I had to go back to tell the nurse my mother needed something to stop the pain. My mother also went up, and each time was met with what appeared to be a disinterested - can I help you?

Mum told the nurses she just needed some anesthetic eye drops, which she had been given during the surgery, just to take the pain away for a while. I could see paramedics and nurses giggling and chatting through the security windows and through to the area where there was a corridor.

While waiting I used the toilet which was filthy. Mum needed a drink and there were, in my view, used cups right next to a few clean cups. I asked for a new pack of cups and was given the end of the pack poked through the security glass. I took two.

There was a person who I believe was mentally ill in the waiting room who appeared to be being ignored. I went over to get the water. This person was sitting near the cooler. I thought the garbage bin stunk as it was full, but later realised this person had soiled them-self because they walked through past everyone and spread the stench throughout the room. This person was sitting on the waiting room chairs . Who knows if these chairs are ever disinfected? Given the state of the toilets, I doubt it.

I was told that the nurses, (which there seemed to be an abundance of) could not administer eye drops until the request was signed off by a doctor - which I was curious if they really existed. None of the nurses, who could see my mother and her eye, were able to do this basic thing without the approval of a doctor, who I was to discover, can approve treatment without actually seeing the patient or eye anyway!

Mum asked me again to go and tell the triage nurse she needed something done, and when I looked through the window, I saw the nurse who had told us she was going to get a doctor's approval reading a computer screen. I very much doubt the nurses communicate with the doctors by email. As soon as she saw me she stopped what she was doing and told us to come through to the first treatment room where mum was given some oral pain killers. After 20-30 minutes these had done nothing, so finally after nearly 2 hours mum got one drop of anesthetic in her eye. One drop, and the rest of the vial was squeezed out and discarded. Why not let mum have the other few drops to administer when the pain returns?

After the one drop the pain stopped immediately. Then we went back to the waiting room.

Once the pain returned, we had to go through the same begging for treatment process again, because we were informed the doctor had only signed off for one drop! My God.


The fact that is seems there are too many nurses who can't actually do anything without the doctor signing off is appears obvious, as is the fact there doesn't appear to be enough doctors in the ED.

In my opinion, perhaps if you hired less nurses and hired a cleaner and another doctor you would be on the way to better use of taxpayer funds.

I believe the current situation is a massive waste of time and resources. Mum was asked the same questions on three occasions in the 4 hours I could stay with her because I had to leave.

Mum eventually had to stay overnight but just had anesthetic eye drops until her 9 am appointment with her specialist, 11 hours after checking in.

The problem was dryness of the eye making it feel like there was sand in it. The period her eye went untreated and left dry did not help her recovery.


In my opinion, if people are becoming so frustrated that they become abusive and even violent, that is a clear indication that the systems in place are failing utterly.

These health workers need to be expected to not only treat patients, but do so in a timely manner. They do not appear to be understaffed, I believe they are poorly managing their resources. The doctor needs to be present with the nurses at triage and assess the situation then tell the nurses what he/she wants to be done right then, rather than bringing one patient in at a time for some treatment, maybe not even by a doctor anyway, and leaving the sick and in pain at the windows begging.

There were other people with eye problems who I feel could have been seen by the same doctor in the first treatment room. Surely eye conditions are not a privacy issue.

Please do something about this!

Responses

Response from Sandy Lewis, Senior Consumer Liaison Officer, Clinical Governance, Queensland Health - West Moreton

Dear Another Taxpayer

Thanks for taking the time to raise your concerns. What you have described in my view is something that neither I, nor the hard working staff at Ipswich Hospital would want for the good folk, like yourself, of this community when they access our health service.

I was passed on your comments and felt compelled to respond personally as we are always looking for ways to improve our care. Consumer and carer input is key to help drive service improvements.

I invite you to contact our Consumer Liaison Office on 0409 275 503 or email WMH_CLO@health.qld.gov.au to discuss these issues further. I am sorry that the care your mum experienced was not to the standard that we strive for and that your mum should have received.

I wish your mother a speedy recovery and all the best for the festive season.

Yours sincerely

Mr Luke Worth

Executive Director

Ipswich Hospital

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