"Waiting lists at hospital causing mental anguish and trauma"

About: Box Hill Hospital / Trauma & orthopaedics

(as the patient),

I attended the arthritis clinic at Box Hill Hospital and was told by the person that i saw to go home and do physio for the rest of my life as there was nothing they could do for me. My husband and I left in tears due to the thought that I would have to suffer with pain due to the seemingly incompetence of the person who was apparently unable to recognize the severity of my ex rays, that were very obvious to me and my husband as they appeared very disfigured.

I had an appointment already arranged to speak with a surgeon two weeks later so I rang to cancel the thinking that it would be a waste of time. Luckily the receptionist advised us to keep the appointment. The surgeon immediately looked at my ex rays that the arthritis clinic had seen two weeks prior and seemed to realized the excruciating pain I was in due to bone on bone deterioration and put me on the three month waiting list for immediate surgery. We again left in tears due to relief that something could be done.

I would like to thank Box Hill Hospital Orthopaedic surgery doctors and staff that looked after me, for their wonderful conscientious work but unfortunately their brilliant work has suffered due to the dreadful waiting lists. While my first knee post op was healing my knee that still needed surgery was excruciatingly painful so I was very limited in my recovery of both knees. 7 months wait for second op. I also found out later that after my first knee op I was given the wrong exercises by the hospital. The exercises I was given were hip exercises not knee. That combined with the waiting list for cataract surgery at the Eye and Ear hospital lead me to be so limited with vision and my ability to exercise properly left me with Pulmonary Embolisms that nearly killed me. In my opinion the physical and mental pain I suffered over a twelve month period was tantamount to torture. I believe that in the end the staff were able to force me into the system but by then a lot of the emotional damage had been done.

I was unlucky enough to have my second knee surgery on the very day that a nurses strike was called and was terrified to wake from surgery in a ward amongst dementia patients that were screaming and abusive . They had been moved from a ward that was forced to close that morning. 24 hrs later I was moved into another room after a wonderful male nurse seemed to take pity on me as I lay terrified quietly in the corner unable to move or sleep or recover. I was then moved into a two bed room and for 24 hrs. It was ok until the poor woman in the bed next to me, who had a broken knee joint and was awaiting emergency surgery for two days, fell into a diabetic coma and staff flew in from every direction (thank god) to help.

The problem was that due to the small room my bed with me in it had to be pushed sideways against the wall. I totally understand but after the crisis (and she was ok) I was left there with no privacy ,no alarm for the nurse as it was broken, no TV as it was broken, no pain killers, unable to get out of the bed and I had just witnessed a woman nearly die. Not one person or nurse came to me for over 4 hrs until my husband came to visit. I was so frightened I signed myself out of hospital with 37 staples in my knee and panadol because I felt I would be in a safer environment at home. I still hadn't even seen a physiotherapist until twenty minutes before I went home on day three as they were on strike with the nurses, but I received excellent care from the home services the very next day.

It was a very very very frightening experience for me. I still am disturbed about the things that I witnessed in those three days. It has been some months since that dreadful experience and I am still recovering from the consequences. I believe so much of my pain and suffering could have been avoided by simply shorter waiting periods that would lead to less deterioration of my physical and mental health while waiting for borderline emergency care.

I am trying every day to become a little stronger and recover but I am left disabled to the point of not being able to return to work in the foreseeable future. Unfortunately now I need care provided by my husband who is no longer able to work.

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Responses

Response from Patient Opinion

Dear Carlachris63,

Thank you for raising your concerns in relation to your experience at Box Hill Hospital.

Your feedback has highlighted a very distressing journey for which I would like to extend my sincere apologies. Although there may be constraints to accessing our services, I would like to assure you that patients’ surgical needs are individually assessed and triaged to ensure that their access is as timely as possible.

Eastern Health is committed to responding to feedback and using patient feedback to improve our services and we would very much appreciate the opportunity to assist you further. I would encourage you to contact our Centre for Patient Experience on 1800 327 8376 or feedback@easternhealth.org.au so we can investigate and address your concerns in detail.

Yours sincerely

Associate Professor Denise Patterson

Acting Executive Director, Acute Health

Eastern Health

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