"Misdiagnosis of Stroke"

About: Sale Hospital / Emergency Department

(as the patient),

I have had Type 1 Diabetes since I was a child and am now a mature adult. 

One night some months ago, I experienced stroke symptoms (slurred speech, missing words when I spoke, difficulty swallowing, and difficulty walking). My friend helped me to bed. When I woke in the morning, I had difficulty getting out of bed, still had slurred speech and could barely walk.

Due to work pressures from my boss, I still went to work, where I had to drive to several places. I had extreme difficulty speaking, walking and my mind was a mess. Once I was completed I drove back home and jumped straight into bed because I was exhausted.

I got up the next morning and attended the Emergency Department of the Central Gippsland Health Service (Sale Hospital) where I was having difficulty getting my words out and still having trouble walking. I hadn't taken my insulin the previous night (which is something I never do), so my blood sugar was elevated.

The Triage Nurse said my face didn't look like I was having a stroke. I waited and was seen to by the Dr in the emergency ward. Once I said I was a diabetic they just concentrated on that. 

They did do a CT scan which showed something but said they didn't know if it was old or new. After a few hours (and my blood sugars returning to normal) they sent me home and gave me a certificate to have 3 days off. They put it down to a chronic ischaemic event caused by poor blood sugars (which were elevated by me forgetting to take my insulin the night before) and told me to visit my GP.

The letter that was sent to the GP stated the same diagnosis and blamed my "poor" blood sugar control. My GP gave me an extra 2 days off. 

I had to wait for a few months to see a specialist (neurologist) and it was confirmed that I had, in fact, had a stroke and it wasn't caused by my diabetes but high blood pressure due to stress. My brain, as far as having diabetes goes, was in excellent condition. 

My current symptoms of the stroke (4 months later) are that my left leg drags a little and I kick my toe sometimes, forget what things are called, forget what I'm doing and forget how to spell words correctly (something which I was very good at).

I feel nobody seems to think these are anything major but to me they are.

I have suffered a fall from kicking my toe and my hip is now suffering severe pain.

My treatment is basically to keep my blood pressure down. I have had no physiotherapy even suggested for my leg. 

I feel the whole process has just been one big balls up, all because I said I was a Type 1 Diabetic.

  

Responses

Response from Mandy Pusmucans, Director of Nursing, Sale, Central Gippsland Health

picture of Mandy Pusmucans

Dear crocodileen37,

Thank you for sharing your story which is very concerning to me. I am very sorry that this has been your experience and I acknowledge your concerns and the impact your condition is now having on your daily life.

We aim to provide the highest standard of care for all of our patients. It is disappointing and concerning that you feel that this was not your experience.

I have had communications with the Medical Director of the Emergency Department and the Nurse Unit Manager of the Emergency Department. We would all like the opportunity to investigate your concerns in detail.

Central Gippsland Health has spent significant time and effort on improving our communication, however, we acknowledge that we do not get it right every time. Your story helps us to reflect and identify improvements. From your story, it highlights for us the importance of actively listening to patients and in the Emergency Department, making sure that we maintain a strong clinical focus so that we attend to people as a whole, and not solely their existing illnesses.

Our Emergency Department staff have been working on the process of communication, through giving consistent messages to patients both at the point of triage and beyond; and making sure we regularly check in with patients both in the waiting room and in the cubicles. We have been supported in this work by our Consumer Advisory Group.

Your story highlights a further area of focus and improvement which we want to work through some more.

In order to fully address your concerns, I would be very keen to talk further with you about your experience and potential improvements and can be contacted on 5143 8512 or email mandy.pusmucans@cghs.com.au.

Once again, please accept our sincere apologies for your experience.

Yours sincerely

Mandy

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