"Poor care of a minor patient"

About: Sunshine Hospital / Emergency Department

(as a parent/guardian),

Recently I had taken my teenage child to my local doctors with chest pains. My doctor had said that their resting heart rate was very high, fluctuating between 80, 130 and 160. The doctor called an ambulance who then transported my child to Sunshine Hospital. I followed the ambulance in my car with my other younger child and arrived in the emergency department around night time.

I waited for approx 20-30 minutes to speak to someone at the triage desk and was told that my teenage child was currently being triaged and to come back in 10 minutes. I believe 10 minutes later I asked again and the triage nurse went and checked and when they returned they told me that my child was coming around now, then my child was standing with me and we were told to wait in the waiting room. At that point I noticed the wait time was between 8 to 10 hours. We proceeded to wait until almost midnight before being called to see a nurse. The nurse took blood from my teenage child and then tried to do an ECG with 2 different ECG machines but I believe neither of them were working properly which was clearly obvious that the nurse was extremely frustrated with the machines not working. The nurse told us that they would send the bloods off to be tested and if everything came back clear we could go home. They also said the bloods would be approx an hour for results and asked us to wait back in the waiting room.

Both my children were tired and hungry by this time and my teenage child was quite anxious about what was happening with them. My children's deceased parent had 2 mild heart attacks as well as my parent having a major heart attack, and this was playing very heavily with my child's anxiety. We waited a further 2 and a half hours when I went to the triage desk to ask if the blood results were back, I was told that they had been back for some time and that all results were clear of any heart issues. I asked how much longer it would be before my child would see a doctor and I was informed that the person in our category that had been waiting the longest and still waiting, was 8 hours. I told the triage nurse that we were leaving because I found the situation absolutely ridiculous and could not believe we had waited so long and not even seen a doctor, and that my child had chest pain. We then left.

A few days ago around midnight, I had to call an ambulance for my teenage child as they were in tears with chest pain again. The ambulance arrived and checked them over thoroughly and proceeded to treat my child, performing an ECG and checking their heart and heart rate, blood pressure and temperature. I believe they administered morphine to help with the chest pain before leaving for Sunshine Hospital. The ambulance crew told me I did not need to rush and follow them, just get your things organised and come in because the hospital was busy and they would have to triage my teenage child which would take time, they also said that I needed to go to the triage desk and let them know I was there and they would allow me through to be with my child. They also said that because my child had chest pain they would be put in a bed and not the waiting room.

I would have arrived approximately 15 or 20 minutes after my child in the ambulance and went straight to the triage desk to inform them I was there, when my other child alerted me that my teenage child was sitting in the waiting room on their own. I asked the triage nurse why they were in there because the ambulance had told me they would be put in a bed, the triage nurse informed me that the ambulance crew should not say that. I went in to see my teenage child in the waiting room and I was absolutely furious to find them in, I believe, a doped-up state on morphine, sitting in a waiting room full of people on their own. My child is a minor and I question, where is the hospital's duty of care for minors?

I believe hospital staff were told I was on my way in. I cannot believe in this day and age that my teenage child, who had never had any form of strong pain relief like morphine in their life was left in a waiting room on their own, scared, with chest pain and barely able to keep their eyes open and hold their head up. I find this whole situation appalling and completely disgraceful. I understand this is a public hospital and it is busy, but Australia is not a third world country and my child is a very respectful person. I am so upset with this whole situation and the treatment of my child. Very, very disappointed to say the least.


Response from Patient Opinion Australia

This response has been published by Patient Opinion on behalf of Western Health

Dear eridanuscm94,

Thank you for taking the time to share comments on your experience at the Sunshine Hospital Emergency Department.

Western Health takes all feedback seriously, and where possible we like to connect with patients, families and carers to formalise the feedback process, providing responses that address concerns or issues. Your story has been shared with the Emergency Directors of both the Adult and Paediatrics Departments, the Emergency Nurse Unit Manager, and the Operations Manager for review.

Given the anonymity of this story, it is difficult for our team to provide a full and comprehensive review. However, the Sunshine Hospital Emergency Department will be reviewing a number of paediatric and adult patients who have been directed to our waiting room after arriving by ambulance in the recent past. We will do this to review our practice and to ensure it complies with our internal standards.

The Sunshine Hospital Emergency Department staff appreciate your feedback and would welcome any further details you may wish to share. Sharing of these details may allow more specific feedback for our team to conduct a formal investigation, to identify and act upon any potential gaps in care.

To facilitate a full review of your individual circumstances and to enable provision of specific feedback regarding your care, I would encourage you to contact Western Health’s Patient Representative Team on 1800 319 631 or via feedback@wh.org.au.

Once again Western Health apologises for any distress you and your family experienced. We thank you again for taking the time to provide your feedback.


Dr. Narelle Watson

Director, Quality, Safety and Patient Experience

Western Health

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