"Box Hill Hospital confusion with elderly mother"

About: Box Hill Hospital / Emergency Department Epworth Eastern

(as a relative),

My Box Hill Hospital Story

My 88 year old mother fell on a footpath while on her daily walk. She injured her knees, and severely injured her elbow. Someone called an ambulance, and she was taken to casualty at Box Hill Hospital. The ambulance crew called me, (assuring me that the elbow was not broken) and I went straight to the casualty department, where my mother was sitting on a chair in the waiting room. As I walked in, she seemed to have ‘fainted’ and was laid on the floor until a stretcher was put under her and she was taken to a room in the casualty department. She didn't appear to have been given any pain relief. She was taken to x-ray, and then admitted. I was told that her elbow required surgery, and that it would be done that evening. I asked for her to be transferred to Epworth Private over the road, because she was adequately covered by her health insurance fund.

I was assured that there was no need, as she would have surgery that evening. She had been fasted in anticipation of surgery. It did not happen that night. Nor the next, nor the next. Each day she was fasted in case she could have the surgery.

This situation was in the Easter period. Limited staff. On the third day, in my presence, a fully qualified nurse commented that my mother should not be taking up a bed, she should be at home. With a shattered elbow, and two injured knees.

I had a meeting with a young registrar, who I think did not know what to do, and called in a senior registrar. I asked him what I could possibly do to rectify this awful situation. Both seemed to be extremely embarrassed, they were doing the best they could, but could not offer any advice. Again I asked for my mother to be transferred to Epworth Private, and they both told me there was no one available there to do the surgery either. In desperation, I asked the senior registrar what he would do if it was his mother, and his words will stay in my mind forever. He said “go home and google a plastic surgeon” I am not that young either, but I do know what Google is, and I do have a computer, but I also know that is not the way it works. Google an elbow surgeon?

After spending so many days in Box Hill hospital, with so little help with food and toileting, (because nursing staff appeared to be overworked) my mother was finally taken to a city hospital, where she underwent a total elbow replacement. Followed by months of rehabilitation, and many months of follow up physio etc. None of this was organised by the health system. I called in favours. I was lucky enough to be acquainted with a plastic surgeon. He called in a favour from a colleague.

I was so lucky and privileged to know someone who knew someone. I hate to think how it would have turned out had I not been able to do that.

Every single part of the above can be documented if anyone cares, (oh except of course the private conversation where I was told to Google a surgeon)

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Responses

Response from Patient Opinion Australia

This response has been posted by Patient Opinion on behalf of Eastern Health.

Dear ‘brysonsmum’,

Thank you for raising your concerns in relation to your mother’s experience at Box Hill Hospital. I read your story with great concern and would like to sincerely apologise for any unnecessary distress that this experience caused your mother and yourself.

We would like to offer you the opportunity to contact our Centre for Patient Experience on 1800 327 8376 or feedback@easternhealth.org.au so we can investigate your concerns with the relevant staff and to offer you a formal explanation.

I once again apologise that your mother’s experience did not meet your expectations. 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.

Yours sincerely

ADJUNCT PROFESSOR DAVID PLUNKETT

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR – ACUTE HEALTH

CHIEF NURSING AND MIDWIFERY OFFICER

  • {{helpful}} {{helpful == 1 ? "person thinks" : "people think"}} this response is helpful

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