"Doctor rushing me out when no one can pick me up"

About: Box Hill Hospital / Emergency Department

(as the patient),

I was admitted to Box Hill Hospital Emergency recently at approx. 3pm by ambulance from my GP. I was experiencing heart issues and my ECG tests results at my GP and in the Ambulance were indicating I had an issue with my heart.

At approx. 11:30pm, a nurse in Emergency Short Stay explained to me and my wife that I will be staying overnight because the doctors wanted to monitor me overnight. She said I would have a CT scan the following morning as they don’t do CT scans during the night. The nurse told my wife to go home and come back tomorrow morning after dropping the kids off at school. She said there is a 2-hour wait after the CT scan anyway so I won’t be leaving until late in the morning the following day.

At approx. 1:30am, I was surprisingly taken to have a CT scan.

Just after 4am, a doctor abruptly woke me up. He said that he knows what’s wrong with you… nothing. He said nothing is wrong with me, that I’m experiencing normal common heart palpitations and I can go home now. I said my heart symptoms had only recently started to reduce and I still wasn’t feeling the best. He dismissed me saying that I was focussing on my heart beats too much and basically I was making myself anxious and self-inducing my heart condition.

He bluntly said they’ve done more tests than was really needed and spent more time on me that they really needed to. He then asked me in what I felt was a pressuring and belittling tone to call someone now to pick me up. He said, he’d spent 30 minutes explaining everything and I’m okay to go now.

I said that the nurse sent my wife home at 11:30pm because I would be staying overnight. I said it’s 4:30am and said I can’t wake her up now because she’s sleeping and she turns her phone off at night. I said we’ve got kids at home and she has to drive them to school.

I said I can’t call anyone else at 4:30am because no one is awake to pick me up. I said the earliest I can call someone else to pick me up is at 7:30am. He said,  how about I meet you half way and you call someone at 6am?

He then said to me in a belittling way that it costs the hospital $800 for me to stay here and that there are 20 people waiting in the emergency waiting area needing a bed.

By saying this, doctor made me feel guilty and feel pressured whilst I was there for treatment for heart issues. He created a sense of urgency and was pressuring me to go as soon as possible at 4:30am.

He made me feel I was a burden and cost to the hospital and the staff and that I was stopping others from having emergency treatment. I had only managed a short nap by that time. I was sleep deprived and wasn’t feeling well regardless of the test results he mentioned.

I told him that I’m still not feeling well but if he says I’m fine to go then I will happily go and free up a bed for someone in need. I said I can leave now on the condition that he arranges a free cab charge for me to be driven home safely at 4:30am.

The doctor knew I was admitted for abnormal heart issues yet he didn’t think or care that pressuring me and treating me in such a manner would likely have negative effects on my heart. As a result of him treating me like this at 4:30am, my blood pressure and heart rate escalated and I felt unwell.

A few minutes later, the doctor and nurse told me the hospital doesn’t provide free cab charges to get me home.

The nurse said to me that earlier there were a few people waiting in emergency however they’ve all got beds now so there is no rush for me to leave at 4:30am. She said I can go back to sleep in my bed and my wife can pick me up later in the morning as she explained to us earlier.

I then told the doctor that I was upset because he had awoken me to pressure and rush me to leave immediately and make me feel guilty for staying. I said nurse said those waiting now have beds. I asked him why he woke me to try to rush me out at 4:30am. I said I pay my taxes and Medicare levies and I have the right to be cared for properly by Box Hill Hospital Emergency. I said it’s not right that he pressured me to leave at 4:30am without any safe way to get home. I said it’s not right to make to feel guilty that I have had many tests and feel guilty that I was stopping others waiting for an emergency bed. I said it’s not right that he says I am costing the hospital $800 to stay.

My concern is that doctor is treating other patients in emergency stay this way.

Please look into this matter with the doctors.

Responses

Response from David Plunkett, Chief Executive, Eastern Health

picture of David Plunkett

Dear Free

Thank you so much for taking the time to share feedback regarding your experience whilst being treated in the Emergency Department at Box Hill Hospital.

I would like to apologise that your experience was less than ideal as illustrated by the way the doctor spoke with you. I'd also like to apologise that you (and your wife) received conflicting information.

I propose to share your experience with the Emergency Department Director and Manager so your experience can be used both for learning and also to reinforce appropriate and accurate communication.

I hope you are in good health and haven't had a recurrence of what brought you to the Emergency Department in the first place.

Kind regards

David

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