"Mental Health Crisis Care"

About: Fiona Stanley Hospital / Emergency Department

(as the patient),

I arrived at the hospital with my teenager who had self-harmed and was suicidal; we were seen by the triage nurse and directed to the waiting area.  My child was very distressed and took off out of the hospital. I went after them but couldn't keep up so I alerted the triage nurse who organised security to search. The security team was faultless but as my child had left the grounds I had to call the police. We eventually found them and returned to the ED.

A doctor saw my child and assessed their wound; it took at least another 2 hours to have the wound stitched. My child suffers from BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) and was very distressed. I can only assume the doctor was not experienced dealing with BPD as all the doctor did was distress my child further.

We were then left waiting for another 10 hours for the psych nurse. Each time we inquired what was happening we were told a different story. We are talking about a suicidal teenager who is extremely distressed being left for 10 hours! What an absolute disgrace! We eventually walked out untreated.

I am sure that my child had a temperature when their initial obs were taken, though not once did anyone take any further obs, and my child was not offered any assistance at all.

I cannot stress enough how disgusted I am with the entire process. If we can't rely on our emergency department in a time of crisis what are we supposed to do?

Responses

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

picture of Janet Zagari

Dear Mother of BPD,

I was concerned to read your story about the recent visit to the Fiona Stanley Emergency Department you had with your child. It must have been an extremely worrying time for you both and I am very sorry to hear you didn’t feel that you could rely on our ED during this distressing time.

I was particularly concerned to read that you and your child waited 10 hours for a mental health assessment by a specialist mental health clinician. I wholeheartedly apologise that this was your experience. Without knowing the specific details of your case it is hard to respond in detail. Usually when a child presents to the ED with mental health concerns, their medical needs are prioritised and the Mental Health Team would normally act on a referral once a patient has been deemed medically cleared and suitable for assessment. As adolescent mental health is a specialist field, the timeframe for assessment following referral can vary due to a number of factors such as time of referral, level of acuity, number of other current referrals and availability of clinicians to attend.

I would like to look into this further to understand exactly what happened to cause such a delay and I sincerely encourage you to contact our Patient Family Liaison Service on 6152 4013 or FSHFeedback@health.wa.gov.au and provide us with your child’s details so I can review the circumstances in detail and implement changes to ensure this does not occur again.

I was also sorry to hear that you felt the doctor who attended to your child’s wound did not communicate effectively. I have shared your story with staff in the ED as a reminder of how stressed and vulnerable patients and their family are feeling when they present to the department and the importance of treating all patients with empathy, compassion and kindness.

Thank you for taking the time to share your story so we can improve the care we provide. I hope your child is receiving the care they need and you are both being supported through this very difficult time in your lives.

Kind regards,

Janet Zagari

Executive Director

Fiona Stanley Fremantle Hospitals Group

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