"Appalling nurse attitude"

About: Fiona Stanley Hospital / Emergency Department

(as a parent/guardian),

I presented to Fiona Stanley Hospital last night with my child who was experiencing severe abdominal pain and nausea with a pain score of 9/10. The triage staff were fantastic and we were taken through not long after as they could see how severe the pain was for my child.

Once inside, my child was placed in a bed and we were told someone would attend to them soon. Whilst waiting, we were less than 2 metres away from the main station and could hear the conversations being had by the staff. I overheard a phone conversation that the Nurse Assessment Lead was having and when they hung up they turned to their colleague and said, it's not my fault there is a delay, I don't give a f*ck. They then instructed the staff member to not answer the phone if it rang again. Thankfully when they walked away, the phone did ring and the staff member answered it. I was shocked at their attitude and felt it was highly unprofessional for them to be speaking that way.

In that time my child was writhing on the bed in absolute agony and when the Nurse Assessment Lead returned, I told them that my child was in excruciating pain and knowing that the doctors may be a while, could they arrange for some analgesia as the nurofen and panadol my child had at home wasn't working. They said that someone would attend to us soon.

Further time passed and the Nurse Assessment Lead just sat in front of us on the computer drinking water and having menial conversation. Another staff member attended to us bring a pillow for my child, I wasn't sure what their position was so asked if it was possible to get some analgesia for my child as we had been waiting a while and they couldn't handle the pain. At that point, the Nurse Assessment Lead stood up, walked over to me and abruptly said that I should not be talking to the staff member about it, it wasn't their job and that I had already spoken with them and they were handling it and that they had other patients to see. I told them I understood that it would be a while before we saw a doctor but I just needed to get some pain relief for my child as their pain score was 9, they were in agony and I hadn't seen them go to speak to anyone about it. The Lead Nurse threatened that if I was going to speak to them with that kind of attitude that they would have me removed. I explained that it wasn't me that had the attitude, clearly, the bad attitude was coming from them and that I had heard their conversation where stated they didn't give a f*ck and instructing their staff not to answer the phone. The nurse replied that weren't talking to me when they said it, I said it didn't matter, that gave me no confidence that they had the best interest of the patients at heart. At that point they walked away. Less than 5 mins later they arrived with another staff member and gave my child their much needed pain relief. We were then able to wait patiently until the doctor came to see us over 2 hrs later. Whilst waiting I requested to see the Clinical Nurse Manager on the floor as I wanted to bring to their attention what had happened in the hope that no other family would have to experience such an interaction. The manager came, was very apologetic and conceded their behaviour was very unprofessional. They said they would speak with the nurse.

The rest of the night and early hours of the morning were fine, the other staff were fantastic, attentive and were happy to answer any questions. We were discharged in the morning. 

I feel it was important for me to share my experience so that senior staff are aware. As someone who also works in the Department of Health, I completely understand the pressures faced in the Emergency Department and that there will be wait times to see a doctor due to the high demand and competing priorities, I don't feel it was at all inappropriate for me to advocate for my child to get pain relief in the interim. What was inappropriate was the attitude and behaviour of the Nurse Assessment Lead. It is shocking that someone who displays such little empathy and compassion is working in the Emergency Department as a nurse whose core role is to care for others. Their behaviour certainly doesn't align with their position nor the values of the organisation and puts additional undue stress on families accessing the hospital who are clearly not in a state to treated in such a manner.


Response from Neil Doverty, Executive Director, Fiona Stanley Fremantle Hospitals Group, South Metropolitan Health Service

picture of Neil Doverty

Dear 19165804,

I would like to sincerely apologise that you and your child experienced this behaviour from our staff in what must have already been a stressful time for you both. Our expectation is that nurses conduct themselves in a professional manner at all times. I welcome your feedback and can assure you that this incident will be fully investigated. I understand that our Nurse Director phoned you today to discuss the matter. Our Patient and Family Liaison Service will now conduct a full investigation of the incident and a formal response will be forwarded to you with the result of this investigation.

Thank you for sharing your experience with us, it is situations like these that enable us to examine how we provide services and look for opportunities to improve. I was pleased to hear that your subsequent experience in the Emergency Department was a positive one.

Kind regards

Neil Doverty
Executive Director

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