"Bad Experience"

About: Maroondah Hospital / Emergency Department

(as the patient),

By way of background, I am a chronic Asthma patient with multiple admissions to Maroondah Hospital. I have always had good things to say about the hospital in the past, and have also shared previously my opinions with you on this site.

Recently, I experienced chest pains accompanied with shortness of breath. I was transported to Maroondah to the Emergency Department (ED) by ambulance.

At the ED an electrocardiogram (ECG) was taken along with blood samples. For some reason, the results were all negative and accordingly I was treated for Asthma along with some analgesics for the chest pain. The blood testing seems questionable as you will see as you read on.

I was transferred to a ward the same afternoon. However at around 3.00 am the pain and shortness of breath returned. The doctor on call was from the Cardiology department. A Medical Emergency Team (MET) call was made, and once again I was treated for my asthma along with analgesics. The rest of the day was uneventful.

Three days later I was seen by the Respiratory Registrar who informed me that they wanted to raise my magnesium levels and I was administered some via IV route. Things seemed to be getting to normal.

On the fourth morning, I began getting severe chest pain while in the ward. The Respiratory registrar examined me and immediately called for an ECG which came up with changes suggesting my heart was in distress. The Cardiology Registrar was summoned and they confirmed the diagnosis. I was immediately given morphine for the pain and some Angenine tablets under the tongue. The Cardiology Registrar suggested the need for me to have an exploratory angiogram followed by treatment. Since I have top level private health insurance (I have always been a private patient at Maroondah) I opted for a consult with a doctor who practices at a private hospital. The doctor came over immediately around 1.00 pm and after examining me over, advised me to be moved to the private hospital. The doctor agreed to arrange for the bed etc., confirmation of which was received at Maroondah Hospital at around 3.00 pm.

The clerk on duty arranged for the ambulance and I was informed that the first available ambulance would be picking me up for transportation to the private hospital. You can imagine my anxiety as a patient with severe chest pains! I kept calling the nurses every 20 minutes or so to enquire about status of the ambulance, only to be told that a call has been made but they are waiting for the ambulance which apparently kept getting diverted to other needy patients.

At 5.00pm the Nurse Unit Manager visited me in my room and amid friendly banter told me to relax as the ambulance would by then be on its way. This by the way was two hours from the first call. I continued enquiring with the nurses as I was getting panicky. My pain kept coming and the nurses kept pumping me with morphine and Angenine.

At 7.00 pm I was at my wits end. I called the nurse once again and got the same standard response. I told the nurse this was unacceptable and by now this matter should have been escalated to the next level to ensure that the ambulance came in immediately. Who would be responsible if something in the meantime happened to me? I asked the nurse to call the nurse coordinator. The nurse said okay but the nurse coordinator will be busy at this time but I will try. I told the nurse that I want to see nurse coordinator immediately as this was now dangerously extended and was certainly bad for my heart with the stress of waiting.

At 7.15pm I could take it no longer. I was agitated by then. Even though I was asked to rest, I got up and pressed the red emergency button in the room. For me, this was an emergency situation that needed to be dealt with. As soon as the alarms went off, I saw nurses running helter skelter but none came to my room. Out of frustration, I dialed 000 and asked for an emergency ambulance. As I was talking to the ambulance people, the Nurse Co-Ordinator came to my room. When I told 000 that I was at Maroondah, they asked to speak to the nurse looking after me. I handed my phone over to the nurse coordinator who spoke to them.

While the nurse coordinator was speaking to the ambulance people, two security guards came to my room, I feel, very menacingly and with what seemed like threatening looks and stood with folded arms two feet away from my bed. I asked them to leave my room as I felt threatened and they refused. One of the guards called my spouse aside and asked if I understood English. This too was very offensive and racist as I was speaking English - I speak no other language. The guards refused to leave the room even though I was lying in prone position on my bed and was no threat to anybody. I was actually verbally fighting for my survival, for my life after waiting for four and half hours for transport. We as lay persons are grilled about the need to start treatment immediately after a heart attack and here I was lying and waiting for an ambulance to take me for my treatment, for a good five hours only to be threatened by hospital security. What did they expect? Did they expect me to just lay there and die?

The nurse coordinator managed to get through the actual provider St Johns High Acuity Ambulances who assured us that the ambulance would be there in exactly half an hour as they were driving from Noble Park. The Ambulance arrived as promised and I was finally moved out of Maroondah Hospital to the private hospital at 8.10 pm that's over five hours of delay even though I was an urgent cardiac patient. By the way I have checked the Ambulance website, and there is a tracking facility for hospital staff to track the ambulances to ensure zero delays etc. It seems that somebody failed me at Maroondah and blamed the ambulance.

I underwent an emergency angiogram followed by angioplasty immediately on my arrival at the private hospital where it was confirmed that I had suffered a heart attack.

I am now discharged and back home recovering from my terrible ordeal which I feel was made far worse by the treatment I received at Maroondah Hospital.

I have always been treated well at Maroondah Hospital. This was a rather unfortunate incident, but shows the possibility of a far worse repeat on somebody else, a repeat which may cost a precious life. Whenever there is an inordinate delay as was in mine, the concerned staff need to be trained to take the matter seriously and instead of just waiting for something to happen, they need to know that matters have to escalated to higher levels to ensure the patient safety at all times.

I feel that the arrogant behaviour of the security personnel cannot be condoned and they must be pulled up. They have no right to threaten a heart patient however verbally loud they may be, especially if that is the result of waiting for five hours for an ambulance! I am grateful to the nurse Co-Ordinator who took things in their hands and dealt with it properly.

I would appreciate feedback confirming the result of an investigation on this matter. In case you want to talk to me in person, I am happy to oblige and meet with you to discuss the matter.


Response from David Plunkett, Chief Executive, Eastern Health

picture of David Plunkett

Dear stonesg48,

Thank you so very much for taking the time to share your experience on Patient Opinion. I was pleased to read that your past experiences when treated at Maroondah Hospital had been positive but disappointed this experience was not. I’m sorry for the distress caused to you.

Understanding your experience more fully is really important and I appreciate your offer to discuss / meet with us to go through it. In order for us to progress this and follow up your particular circumstances, I would like to invite you to contact one of our Patient Relations Advisors in the Eastern Health Centre for Patient Experience either by calling 1800 EASTERN or by emailing feedback@easternhealth.org.au. If you choose to call please be aware that it is possible that the Patient Relations Advisors may be on another call at the time you ring and if so you will be invited to leave a message so they can return your call.

I am pleased you are recovering well at home and hope we hear from you shortly.

Kind regards,


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Update posted by stonesg48 (the patient)

Hello David,

Your quick response is greatly appreciated and shows you do care, thanks!!

I have sent an email response to the id you have given, along with my contact details, and have requested them to get in touch with me sometime next week only as I am still recovering from the terrible ordeal I went through.

Kind regards