"Lack of appropriate care in the WA public health system"
About: Bunbury Hospital / Emergency Department Bunbury Hospital Emergency Department Bunbury 6230 Fiona Stanley Hospital Fiona Stanley Hospital Murdoch 6150 Margaret River Hospital / Emergency Department Margaret River Hospital Emergency Department Margaret River 6285 St John of God Bunbury Hospital St John of God Bunbury Hospital Bunbury 6230 St John of God Murdoch Hospital St John of God Murdoch Hospital Murdoch 6150
Posted by omegacz33 (as ),
Recently I fell extremely ill with gallbladder issues and required emergency surgery.
My experience began at Margaret River Hospital. The care I received here was excellent and we are lucky to have such an outstanding local service in Country WA. Unfortunately, due to its size, from my understanding it does not have the resources to handle more difficult medical emergencies and has limited capacity for surgery and as such I was transferred via ambulance to Bunbury Regional Hospital in the early hours of the morning.
It was not my choice to go here; as a private patient, I would like to be able to request which hospital I attend. Unfortunately in WA that right is not afforded to patients, and St John Ambulance service is bound to only transport patients to public hospitals. I feel this is a massive problem. The ambulance officers themselves are wonderful and very helpful, but that lack of choice is unacceptable and needs to change.
Upon arrival at the Emergency Department at Bunbury Hospital, I was placed in the back and told I would be attended to when they could. The ED was clearly very busy and I was told by one of the nurses that there was a number of life-threatening cases that were currently being attended to, hence the delay. I had brought my prescription medication from home, and had handed these over to the staff upon arrival. I really wish I hadn’t done this. During my wait I asked the nurses if I could please have my own medication that I brought as well as some pain relief as I was in excruciating pain. They refused to do this and I believe that was the point that they labelled me a problem patient. They called over two security guards who then proceeded to physically abuse me – I have photographic evidence of the harm they caused me.
It was at this point, around 2 hours after I had arrived at the hospital that I grabbed one of the wheelchairs that was available, and took myself over to the adjoining St John of God Bunbury Hospital. I had hoped that as this was supposedly a private hospital that I would be able to get proper care here. However, the same nurses that worked at Bunbury Regional Hospital also followed me here. I requested again that I be given my own medication, but the nurses again refused. They threatened me with the security guards again and at this point I contacted the police.
The police arrived, and promptly returned my cane, which the staff had taken from me. The nurses tried to tell the police that the reason they had taken it away and called security was that I was hitting other patients with my cane, which was simply untrue. The police believed what I had told them and were extremely kind and helpful. They even drove me the four hours back to Margaret River Hospital, where I felt it was safe.
At this point, knowing that I still had not received the care and surgery that I needed, and that I was not going to receive it at Bunbury Regional Hospital or St John of God Bunbury Hospital, I contacted my GP. I requested that they get me into a private hospital in Perth. My GP was able to organise transport to Perth, however due to the patient transport rules, I ended up at the public service, Fiona Stanley Hospital.
In my opinion, this was another bad experience. Upon arrival I requested a private doctor, as well as a private room if it was available (this was less important to me than seeing a doctor of my choice). I was not given either and was put on the public list for surgery. The nurses tried to give me medication that I knew I was allergic to, therefore I believe my medical records and allergies were not provided to this hospital. The nurses insisted that the computer said that this was the medication that I needed, and I repeatedly told them that that medication would kill me. I was nil by mouth for 5 days and lost 13kgs. I insisted that I would not allow them to operate on me until I had met the surgeon, anaesthetist and their team. The staff refused this stating that as I was on the list it could be any of their public surgeons, or even an intern. I said that that would happen over my dead body.
I happened to be seen by a consultant at Fiona Stanley Hospital that I heard from the nurses was extremely experienced. I asked them where they practiced, which just happened to be across the road at St John of God Murdoch Hospital. I asked how I could get in to see them, and they advised that I would just need a referral. I got straight on to my GP and organised the referral and got myself into St John of God Murdoch Hospital.
After 9 days of not receiving treatment, I finally received the care I needed and underwent gallbladder surgery upon arrival at St John of God Murdoch Hospital. The care I received at this private hospital was exceptional and I cannot fault the staff at all.
The experience I had in the public system was an absolute nightmare, and unfortunately this is the third time that something like this has happened to me. I am very aware that often this is not the fault of medical staff – nurses, doctors, ambulance officers – as they are understaffed, run off their feet, and doing the absolute best they can, given the circumstances.
In my opinion the public health system in WA is failing its patients. I am absolutely sick of the poor quality care that I believe I have received at numerous public hospitals in WA. The fact that you cannot request which hospital, public or private, you are taken to by St John Ambulance is appalling and must change. All patients, public or private, deserve quality health care.