"Traumatic experience"

About: Fiona Stanley Hospital / Emergency Department

(as the patient),

I went into the Emergency Department at Fiona Stanley Hospital at recently due to intolerable pain. While waiting to be assessed, nursing staff gave me an oral painkiller to help with the pain. After being examined, doctors confirmed I had an abscess. They started me on IV antibiotics and told me that I would need to go into theatre to have the abscess drained as well as the capsule removed. As a result, they started preparing me - having me remove my jewellery and completing a urine pregnancy test which came back negative. Later that afternoon, they admitted me to Short Stay to await surgery. Later that evening, the ward was informed that they were no longer taking me to theatre; instead the doctor was going to perform the procedure in my bay. I asked the nurse if it would be painful and the nurse assured me it would not.

That night, one of the doctors who previously examined me entered my bay alone and advised that they were going to drain the abscess, after which an appointment would be made for me via outpatients for a doctor to follow up and schedule a surgery to remove the capsule. I asked why the treatment plan had changed but my queries were ignored. I asked if the procedure the doctor was going to perform would be painful and they assured me it would not as they were not making an incision on the inflamed area. I was certain any sort of incision would be painful regardless of where it was made but the doctor reassured me it would not be as it is magic and it's not a cut, it's just a poke. I asked if I could have pain relief but the doctor declined and explained that administering local anaesthetic would be more painful. I asked if I could have oral pain relief but the doctor assured me I would not need it.

The doctor commenced the procedure by cleaning the area and when my leg jerked towards them due to the pain, they said that I would have to hold still and joked that I had to be careful or I would take the doctor out. The doctor advised me to look away and made the first incision. The pain took me by surprise after all the assurances and I started screaming and crying in pain. The doctor expressed surprise at my reaction and asked if it was painful which I confirmed it was. This continued throughout the procedure – the doctor ignored my cries of pain, continuing with the incisions and squeezing the area to drain the pus. The doctor repeatedly asked if I felt better as they went, and I repeatedly told them I did not and that I was in pain. I was located right next to the nurses' station with no door, just a curtain separating us. Despite my continued screams of distress during the entire procedure, no member of the nursing staff came to check if assistance was required and I was left alone with the doctor. Finally the doctor advised that the procedure was complete and they just needed to wash the wound. At the doctor’s request, a nurse entered my bay with a syringe of saline. The nurse saw my state of distress but did not make any comment. I raised my concern as I was certain salt in a wound would again be painful. The doctor assured me it would not. The doctor washed the wound while I screamed. The doctor dressed the wound with gauze and discussed aftercare.

The doctor then realised they had forgotten to ask me to sign the consent form. I signed my consent after the entire procedure was already over while I continued to cry hysterically. The doctor left and the nurse returned to remove my catheter for discharge. The nurse remarked that it sounded painful and I confirmed it was while I continued to cry. The nurse asked if the doctor had administered local anaesthetic and I confirmed the doctor had not - to which the nurse expressed surprise but made no further comment and left my bay. On my way out I checked in at the nurses’ station to ask if there was anything further before I left and despite being in tears, no questions were asked.

Responses

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

picture of Neil Doverty

Dear maydayyy

Thank you for bringing your story to our attention. I was extremely concerned to read of your experience, which sounded very distressing. Please accept my apology on behalf of the hospital.

Your description is alarming and certainly not an example of our usual processes or the level of care we provide to our patients. We do often conduct procedures such as the one you describe on the ward if it is determined that a general anaesthetic is not required. However, in those circumstances a nurse is usually present and I was surprised to hear that one was not present. Provision of pain relief and ensuring appropriate consent are very important parts of clinical treatment.

It is important that we understand how this occurred and what we need to do to make sure it doesn’t happen again. I would be grateful if you could contact us directly on 6152 4013 so that we can get some more details to conduct a full investigation.

I hope that you are now recovering.

Kind regards

Neil Doverty

Executive Director

Fiona Stanley Fremantle Hospitals Group.

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