"I felt both of my children were let down by the staff at A&E."

About: Rockingham General Hospital / Emergency Department

(as a parent/guardian),

On two separate occasions I have had to take my young children to a&e at Rockingham and on both occasions we felt badly let down!

The first occasion was with my littlest one. We went to the hospital with a fever and a rash all down our very young child's lower body, because of the rash we were seen quite quickly to start with and put in a room to wait for a doctor. They were going to take bloods to test for meningococcal, after waiting for two hours the bloods were finally taken and we were to wait for results. An hour later the nurse comes in needing to take the bloods again because there was a problem with the first lot. So after another two hours of waiting I asked to see the doctor as my child was upset and very tired. The doctor told us the bloods don't matter, my child hasn't got meningococcal, so to go home. Five hours for no answers.

The very next day my little one wakes up and the rash has grown by a fair bit and is now swelling. By the afternoon my child has lost all control of their legs and cannot walk, so we head back to the hospital where we wait for four hours and are not seen and then told it's just inflammation of the hip and to go home!  

The very next day again my child is in agony and cannot walk. I take my child straight back to the hospital where they take more bloods after an 8 hour wait and sent home again with no answer. So after not getting anywhere with them we randomly dial a doctor and begged them to come out (them as well as other doctors had refused before saying she needs to go straight to the hospital) they did and my very young child was finally given a diagnosis of henoch-schonlein purpura (hsp). Something I believe the hospital should have picked up if they were doing their jobs right, instead of what seemed like them trying to get us out the door. We waited a total of 24 hours in the space of three days for them not to give us an answer, lost our files and blood results and treated us in away where I thought I was in the wrong for bringing my child back until I had an answer.

Secondly, my slightly older child had been diagnosed with bronchiolotis  and put on antibiotics, but was not getting any better a number of days later. So was taken to a&e with suspected pneumonia. We waited 2 hours to see a nurse who listened to my older child's chest for half a second and said he seems fine go wait in the waiting area. We waited in total of five hours without being seen and by this time I had to leave to pick up my younger child from school, my older child was diagnosed with pneumonia after they were given a chest x-ray by a different doctor!

So thank you Rockingham a&e, who I believe were short staffed & short tempered.

I understand that they have to see the patients that seem more serious first, but my young child had to wait longer than a patient who seemed to have popped a stitch on an already heeled scar.   


Response from Kath Smith, Executive Director, Rockingham Peel Group, South Metropolitan Health Service

picture of Kath Smith

Dear upset mom

Thank you for taking the time to share your story. I sincerely apologise on behalf of Rockingham General Hospital that you and your children had such long waiting times in our Emergency Department (ED) and that your experience with us left you feeling like your children had been let down by our staff.

As you acknowledge, patients are seen according to their triage score and unfortunately patients presenting with a higher triage score will take priority and this can impact on waiting times. The ED can at times be at high capacity and this can also influence waiting times. We do endeavour to update ED patients every 30mins when possible to ensure they are aware of what is happening in regards to their care. Please accept our apologies if this did not occur on this occasion, I have reminded staff of the importance of keeping patients informed.

I take your concerns very seriously and I would like to offer you the opportunity to contact me directly on 9599 4331 in order to discuss the issues further.

I hope and trust that your children’s health is improving.

Kind regards

Kath Smith

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Update posted by upset mom (a parent/guardian)

I appreciate your apology, but unfortunately it doesn’t solve the issue to how you rate the importance of a patient, which is one of my concerns. A patient with a swollen finger was in and out before my young child with pneumonia was even seen! A patient with an open stitch was seen before us and the patient's wound had already healed. Please explain to me how they were of more importance than a 6 year old presented with breathing difficulties and pneumonia?

Thank you

Response from Kath Smith, Executive Director, Rockingham Peel Group, South Metropolitan Health Service

picture of Kath Smith

Dear upset mom,

I want to reiterate how sorry I am you felt let down and upset by the care provided by our Emergency Department.

As I said, I am very concerned about the issues you have raised and would like an opportunity to discuss them with you so we can get a better idea of exactly what happened, provide you with some answers and see what we can do to improve the experience for future patients. I encourage you to contact me on 9599 4331 so that I can do this.

Kind regards,

Kath Smith

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