"Poor experience with Maternity records."

About: Box Hill Hospital / Maternity Service

(as the patient),

I made a formal complaint to Box Hill Hospital via their website two weeks ago, and to date have not even received a confirmation email or reference number, let alone any contact or a response.

As such, I have chosen to make my complaint in a public forum. In the meantime I have transferred my care to another hospital, where I have birthed previously.

During my time as a patient of Box Hill Hospital Maternity, I became increasingly dismayed and frustrated at what I saw as the poor standard of record keeping and bureaucratic processes within the hospital. Despite all scans and blood tests being completed as requested, it still seemed my file was inadequate and, I believe, as a result my care was compromised. Examples are below.

- After my 12 week scan, when a full ultrasound/combined screening report had still not been received by the hospital, I was advised by a midwife to make an appointment with my GP at my own cost to have the report properly explained and provided to me. I was not a shared care patient. The report should have been made available and the results been explained to me by my maternity caregivers.

- My initial request to be identified as a candidate for the Know Your Midwife program did not appear to be followed up on, or not communicated to me, until I asked specifically two months later what had transpired. I do not think it is unreasonable to be kept informed about my own care pathway. In the meantime I had elected not to follow a shared care pathway, my next preference of care model, as I was advised that it would make me a better candidate for the Know Your Midwife program if I was not also seeing my GP for maternity care. This prevented me accessing my second choice of care pathway.

- When I called the maternity area at 18 weeks pregnant due to concerns about lack of foetal movement, I spoke to multiple people before being able to speak with a midwife. She did not let me finish explaining the situation, and I felt was nothing short of dismissive and she told me not to come in but to go to Emergency, which was not feasible with a toddler. It did not appear that any record of this call or concern was made on my file. I found this experience disempowering, upsetting and frustrating.

- I was unable to book my 20 week scan within the hospital even with more than 6 weeks' notice, and was obliged to seek a private scan instead. I am a public patient and paid for the private scan out of pocket. Current patients of the hospital should be able to access appointments in specialty areas when it is a standard procedure requested their caregivers, especially with such a long lead time.

- I had my 20 week scan at a private ultrasound clinic in Box Hill. This clinic sent through the report to both my GP (at my request) and the hospital. At my 22 week midwifery appointment, more than two weeks later, the hospital, it appear, still had not processed the report and did not have a copy on file. I was asked to contact my GP to access copies of all my bloodwork and my 20 week scan report. It is ridiculous that I should be asked to contact my GP's office to ask them to print all relevant records and then provide them to the hospital because it seems, the hospital's lack of organisation, at my own and my GP's cost and inconvenience. I am not a shared care patient so this was a particular burden on my GP.

- At my 22 week appointment it became apparent to me that the hospital did not have all the bloodwork records it required (in addition to missing my 20 week scan report). Further, after I reviewed all the bloodwork results provided to me by my GP that I had been requested to source by the midwife, it became apparent to me that I had not been referred for the required blood tests by the hospital in the first place.

My experience with the hospital was alarming and caused me to have a serious lack of confidence that my file and records were being properly managed. I was concerned that my maternity care was being compromised by poor record-keeping.

In my formal complaint to the hospital I requested that the hospital review its document handling processes so that midwives can properly use patients' files and to minimise demands placed on patients to source and provide records themselves.

I look forward to the hospital's response.

ADDENDUM:

Since my complaint directly to the hospital, I have been contacted by the responsible manager and I am extremely pleased with the resolution to my issues. The manager has acknowledged the failing of care outlined in my complaint, apologised on behalf of her staff and the hospital, discussed all the elements of my complaint with me, and committed to using my feedback as a learning experience for all maternity staff to improve processes and experiences for all other patients. I commend the hospital highly on this response and feel very reassured that my experience was an unusual one. Congratulations to Box Hill Hospital Maternity on a thoughtful, respectful and genuine response to my experience and for handling my complaint in a professional and positive manner.

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Responses

Response from Alan Lilly, Chief Executive, Eastern Health

picture of Alan Lilly

Many thanks rbur for sharing your initial story on Patient Opinion and again for your later addendum.  I really do appreciate your very balanced view on this.  Thank you.

Your story also reminds all of us of the importance of timely follow-up and communication and your initial concerns would so easily have been managed if we had responded to you more quickly.  As you will also know by now, our staff were indeed most apologetic with regard to not getting back to you quickly enough and I know that we will do things differently in the future with regard to ensuring that the follow-up has also occurred.  Thank you again for your understanding and honesty in this process.

With best wishes and kind regards, Alan Lilly

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Update posted by rbur (the patient)

Thanks for your prompt response Alan.

I was very reassured in speaking to the hospital that the concerns I expressed about my care were recognised as valid and it was acknowledged that aspects of my care had indeed been below the hospital's own expectations, and that my experience will be used to inform better future practices.

In particular, I was heartened that my experience in being dismissed when I called regarding reduced foetal movement was taken very seriously and will be followed up with the staff member involved. This was the most serious aspect of my complaint and I feel that it was responded to with due gravity.

Thanks again for your response and I am very satisfied with the hospital's handling of my concerns.