"My spouse's recent hospital stay"

About: Geraldton Hospital / Emergency Department

(as a carer),

As the spouse, primary caregiver and next of kin, I was promised by the Emergency Department (ED) admitting clinician, that my spouse would not receive any medication without my prior consent.

My spouse was and is suffering from dopamine poisoning.

This promise was over-ridden by the ward staff, when on my spouse's last night in hospital, they saw fit to administer endone to an immobile, psychotic, parkinson’s patient who was constipated. The endone was administered for a, I believe, one-off backpain, despite my spouse not having complained of any other pain before or after, even though they were asked very regularly if they had any pain.

Turning the patient over or applying a deep heat cream or a heat pack could have sufficed a one-off night pain. Several weeks later I am still dealing with my spouse's worsened psychosis and a severe bowel blockage.

During my spouse's stay I had to continue to request a water jug for their room before it was provided on day three. A few months ago, the ED clinician agreed to discharge my spouse so I could care for them appropriately at home, as I had done before they were admitted with an infected sore. My spouse had a history of staph infection, so I was extra anxious that it was assessed and treated appropriately.

The hospital situation had no facility to help my spouse move, so they were bedridden or hoisted for showers, etc.

After intravenous antibiotic treatment, the Doctor agreed to discharge my spouse on oral medication, the allied health clinician spoke to me explaining they had, in my absence, spoken to my spouse and they wished to stay and receive rehabilitation.

My spouse had taken endone during the night, had to be prompted to know who I was, they weren’t sure where they were or who was talking to them and thought the year was 1964. I told the allied health clinician my spouse had been discharged and I was taking them home.

Then the GRH clinician called me to inform me that they, and the allied health clinician wished to speak with me when I returned to the hospital to collect my spouse. On my return to the hospital, 8 people entered my spouse’s room to tell me it was unwise to take them home and again attempted to ask my spouse what they wished to do, but with so many people present it was perfectly obvious they had no understanding of the questions.

I had to insist three times, that at this stage my spouse was safer and able to be cared for better at home than in hospital. I was told if I took them home, they would be discharged against medical advice.

I questioned why this was, as the ED clinician had already told me they would discharge my spouse, but I was informed the physios had spoken to my spouse and changed their decision. I was told I would have to sign a form “against medical advice discharge”. I asked that the form be presented for me to sign and for all the people to leave my spouse’s room. I signed the form and took my spouse home.

I remain very frightened and feel disillusioned by the hospital system.

Responses

Response from Liz Kelly, A/Coordinator Executive Services, WA Country Health Service Midwest

Dear nashiraek79,

I was very concerned to read your story, as it is not reflective of the high standard of care we expect of our staff or our values of compassion and integrity where we bring honesty, collaboration and professionalism to everything we do. I am very sorry that you have experienced our care in this way and that you felt that your spouse was unsafe, that they continue to have ongoing health issues and that you feel disillusioned and frightened.

The issues you have raised are very serious and I would be very grateful if you could contact us so that we can investigate your complaint further. If you would like to do this you can contact Derek Fraser, Operations Manager Geraldton Hospital on 9956 2369 or email Derek.Fraser@health.wa.gov.au or myself on 9956 8695 or email Liz.Kelly@health.wa.gov.au.

Both Derek and I want to reassure you that we will act on your complaint and that if you need we will support you to access any care required for your spouse to address the ongoing health issues you describe. Your contact will be valued and used to make necessary changes so that our care is safe, effective and meets consumers’ needs.

I hope to hear from you soon.

Kind Regards

Liz

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