"Emergency care service failing on several occasions"

About: Wonthaggi Hospital / Emergency Department

(as the patient),

I personally have been taken to the emergency department by ambulance on 3 occasions over the last 4 years (2 in the last year) as well as being taken by my wife on 2 occasions. The last occasion I had an erratic heart arrhythmia (a condition I have experienced and received treatment for the year before). I was admitted into emergency and seen by the junior doctor who, after asking me questions about my history, had the senior doctor see me. The senior doctor, after looking at the heart monitor, said to send me home. After this, the staff discussed among themselves my health and continued checking the monitor. (I was in the bed nearest the nurse station and heard everything being said). The junior doctor came back and again, having checked the monitor, raised their concerns only to be told that - we don't read the ECG like that. I was sent home even though my heart arrhythmia continued. The opportunity to send me to another hospital (as we have private health cover) was not considered even though I had advised the staff of the heart specialist I have been seeing for that very condition. This appeared to be ignored and no contact was made. I was sent home.

Two days later I collapsed in my doctor's surgery and the ambulance was called again. Once again the same things happened, only this time the junior doctor asked me if I would like to be sent to another hospital with a cardiac unit (instead of being sent home again untreated as the leading doctor again advised). Of course, I said yes and I was in the Holmesglen Private Hospital for the next 5 days receiving the treatment that I should have been given access to from the start.

Unfortunately, this failure to provide adequate medical care has happened before to my family at this hospital. A close relative was totally misdiagnosed as having indigestion when in fact they had a major infection in their intestine. They collapsed in another hospital the next day.

Another close relative was given eye drops that they were allergic to even though they told the doctor that they had a reaction to that particular medication.

The first time I was experiencing chest pain and generally poor health the attending doctor decided that I had an ear infection even though I did not have a temperature or have any discomfort in my ears. They checked my pulse and reported that it was a little low. There was no other checking of my heart condition. I had extensive tests through my family GP after raising my concerns with him. The test showed that I have a partially enlarged heart. After having experienced the symptoms for heart arrhythmia I now believe that this was the first time that this had occurred where I was able to feel the results.

Responses

Response from Jan Child, CEO, Bass Coast Health

picture of Jan Child

Dear Faulty Ticker,

We are always dismayed to hear when someone hasn’t received a good service, and this is particularly the case when the issue recurs as you describe it has, over the past 4 years.

Firstly, let me thank you for taking the time to provide us with your feedback – we can only improve when we know what hasn’t worked well.

Secondly, given some of these issues are historical, and some more recent, we would very much welcome the opportunity to talk or meet with you directly to fully understand what occurred, review your file and investigate properly the issues raised, if possible, with the staff who attended you.

I would be very grateful if you would consider calling me on 0472846355, or our Clinical Director of the Emergency Department (Dr Garry Wilkes) on 0419197574. If you preferred to chat over the email, you could email me directly on jan.child@basscoasthealth.org.au. I can assure you that your complaint can remain confidential.

We would genuinely welcome feedback about whether any of the many changes we have made to the Emergency Department over the past 12 months would have helped with the issues you encountered. We are very keen to keep improving and to keep learning and I am sure a conversation together would help us do both of those things even more.

Thank you once again for taking the time and I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind Regards,

Jan

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Response from Jan Child, CEO, Bass Coast Health

picture of Jan Child

Dear Faulty Ticker,

Thank you so much for contacting me this morning. I look forward to meeting with you and our Clinical Director of Emergency, Dr Garry Wilkes, on Thursday to discuss the issues you raised. I understand that some of the issues you raised in your original post are, as you say, third hand - I hope you will be able to make contact with the person your wife had heard the comments from. They are also very welcome to contact Garry or myself directly via our mobiles. Thank you once again for making contact and agreeing to meet with us.

Kind Regards,

Jan

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Response from Jan Child, CEO, Bass Coast Health

picture of Jan Child

Dear Faulty Ticker,

Thanks so much for meeting with Garry and I yesterday - we both appreciated your time, your honesty and your passion for bringing the consumer voice from Venus Bay.

We were able to clarify that some of the interactions you had were not with the BCH ED service. I have passed your feedback onto the practice that saw you and your mother.

It was very useful for us to discuss your ED presentation in 2017 and we agreed there were opportunities for improvement in our treatment and communication, and particularly in the discharge arrangements. As discussed, we will use your experience as a learning opportunity for the ED staff, and with some of our recent improvements in the ED, we are confident that the response you received last year would not occur today.

We agree wholeheartedly that the current ED environment makes it very hard to maintain privacy and confidentiality - particularly for patients in the resuscitation cubicles close to the front desk - we will remind staff that they must be careful and mindful about the conversations they have in that area to ensure patient confidentiality is maintained. We are blessed to have received funding to build a new Emergency Department and once that is complete, this current issue will be resolved.

We agreed it was difficult to work through the information you have received third hand regarding recent BCH experiences - I absolutely respect that people might feel reticent to come forward with their concerns - particularly older people - and I appreciate your commitment to distribute my card with my phone number and let people know that all feedback is received as an opportunity for improvement and learning. We appreciate the distance from Venus Bay to our ED and we will be sure to remind staff to be considerate of discharge arrangements for Venus Bay community members.

We thank you once again for taking the time to meet with us to go through your concerns - this was very valuable for us and will contribute to our improvement processes. I wish you good health and whilst we hope you don't have to use our ED again, if you do, please be sure to give Gary or I a call to let us know how your experience was.

Kind Regards,

Jan

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Update posted by Faulty Ticker (the patient)

Thank you for your time and efforts. It is good to see that there are proactive people making the efforts to improve and strive for the best possible outcomes. I urge everyone who uses the Wonthaggi Hospital to give feedback on their experiences (both good and bad). It is well worth your time.

Kind Regards,

Faulty Ticker

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