"The wonderful care received by my mum, and the awful exception."

About: Royal Melbourne Hospital

(as a relative),

Late last year my frail mum was transferred to the Royal Melbourne from a rural hospital for a brain biopsy which confirmed she had a serious and rare brain infection with nocardia. She had lost most functioning of her right side and was unable to walk or feed herself. The clear expertise and care taken by medics in both the neurology and infections diseases ward was immensely reassuring for myself and my family. In particular, I want to call out infectious diseases registrar and the entire medical and paramedical team who took great care in their medical decision making and keeping us, my mum's immediate family carefully informed throughout her care and ultimate dying.

However, in my opinion one of the infection diseases staff members should not be in a position of caring for people. In my opinion, she no longer recognises her patients as people for whom nurses are caring. Following a serious seizure the previous night at which the entire emergency team attended, and following which mum deteriorated dramatically and was barely responsive, I spoke to this staff member. I explained that the doctors had explained that my mum may have been in seizure for an hour the night before, as it had been an hour since a nurse had seen her. This staff member responded with - that was lucky, it should have been two hours because nurses only do their obs two hourly. She also told me with great contempt it seemed, that the - doctors don't know anything. I expressed my concern that if it was two hours the next time, there was a high risk that mum would die. So I asked her to ensure that the nurses on duty that night just popped their head in mum's room every so often just to check on her. This staff member said  - No, I am sorry but we only have the staff to do two hourly obs. I explained that I wasn't asking for extra obs,  but just taking a few seconds to check on Mum as they walked past. This staff member again said no, that the nurses did not have the time and walked away.

I believe such an extreme 'work to rule' attitude may well amount to legal negligence. Her refusal to accommodate a reasonable request, which would have taken no more than a few seconds every so often during the night as a nurse walked by Mum's room, and possibly saved my Mum's life, has no place in a hospital ward. In my opinion, if this staff member cares so little for her patients, how can she lead less experienced nurses? What is she teaching them? And what place has her seemingly open and vehement contempt (which in my view is misplaced ) for the doctors she works with, got in patient care?

Responses

Response from George Braitberg, Executive Director Strategy, Quality and Improvement, Melbourne Health

picture of George Braitberg

Dear warmxb67

Thank you for sharing this story. First of all I would like to express my condolences on your recent loss. As a son of an older mother I can appreciate how hard it would be.

Thank you for taking the time to acknowledge the good work of our staff and the care that they provided to your mother. It is good to hear that your experience with our clinical teams was positive. However it is unfortunate that you have had an unpleasant experience with one of our staff. I appreciate that one poor interaction can have a large impact on your overall assessment of the care we provided.

Let me reassure you that all observations are done according to clinical need and that there is no strict 2 hour rule policy. We expect our staff to be able to explain why we do things and ensure that families are treated with respect and listened to. I am sorry this was not your experience.

Rest assured that the Director of the area that looked after your mother is aware of your concerns and will feedback to the staff.

I would encourage you to contact our consumer liaison officer if you would like to discuss this further. They can be contacted on the following:

T: (03) 9342 7806

E: consumerliaison@mh.org.au

I hope that we can provide a better service in the future. We aim to provide a safe timely, effective and person centred service and feedback such as yours helps us achieve this goal.

Regards,

George Braitberg










consumerliaison@mh.org.au










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