"My wife has had the most traumatic experience."

About: Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital / Cancer Centre Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital / Emergency Department

(as a carer),

My wife has throat cancer and had 45 days of radiation and chemo. So she was not well.  Even though they believe they have killed the cancer, the growth, whilst dead, is still in her throat making it very difficult for her to swallow or talk.  Because of this a peg tube was inserted into her stomach for me to feed her with. Recently the tube collapse so I rushed her to the emergency department at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital. The staff in emergency who treated my wife could not have been kinder or more caring. They were all wonderful. 

Once they decide where my wife should go, she was sent to the Oncology Department.

Because of the growth, my wife can only take small amounts of food, teaspoon size and only 3 or 4 mouthfuls at a time. So she does not eat very much.  The next day, the nurse told my wife she would be fasting from midnight because she would be operated on the following day. So it was decided they would try and give her a little bit of food, but all my wife could eat was a tiny amount, three or four teaspoons. In the early evening the nurse came back and said that the doctor had called and was on their way in, and that they would operate that night. My wife asked about the bit of food she had had, and was told they would call the doctor back. The doctor said they would still go ahead with it.

I had gone home by this time. However what happened next to my wife can only be described as barbaric! The doctor came in to operate, and told my wife that because she had eaten they would have to operate without pain killers. My wife was able to say that she had found the last operation traumatic, and very painful and that she wanted more painkillers this time.  This is when my wife felt that the doctor turned very nasty to her. The doctor told her that they had been called in to operate on her, and that she couldn't have any pain killers because she had eaten, (even though it was only 3 or 4 teaspoons of food). The doctor, my wife felt, was very rude, and told her that she had a choice, she either had the operation now, without any sedatives at all, or she would have to wait. The doctor told her that they were fully booked out the next day, so couldn't be sure when they would next be free. My wife felt extremely frightened, and thought if she said no, the doctor would make her pay. She felt pressured into signing the consent form. The doctor then went ahead with the operation, without any pain killers at all!  My wife, who can barely speak because of the growth in her throat, was crying throughout the operation and called out several times, don't do it any more, to stop because it was too painful. The doctor did not appear to listen to her, and kept going. It took three different tubes to be inserted, pushing and pushing the whole time, before they could find an old fashion one that would work.

No one, in this day and age should ever have to put up with such barbaric treatment. I am disgusted that my wife had to experience this trauma.  She is still extremely distressed by her experience, as am I. I want the hospital to investigate this!


Response from Janet Zagari, A/Executive Director, Sir Charles Gairdner Osborne Park Health Care Group

picture of Janet Zagari

Dear Barbaric,

Thank you for sharing your wife’s story with us. I am sorry to hear of her distress, and that we did not treat her with the kindness and compassion that we pride ourselves on. I am very sorry that your wife felt pressured and afraid, and that she was in pain during her procedure. I understand that you have been in contact with our Patient Liaison department with the details that we need so that we can investigate and provide you with answers. I have asked that this happen as quickly as possible, so that someone can contact you and your wife to tell you what we identify from that investigation and any changes that we make as a result of the review. I will make sure that someone calls you within the week to speak with you both and would like to apologise again for the distress that your wife experienced.

Kind regards,

Janet Zagari

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