"Strange behaviour in Ward"

About: Mount Isa Hospital Royal Flying Doctor Service The Townsville Hospital

(as the patient),

I am an older person. What follows here is my experiences in three different hospitals in Queensland over a period of five days when I first fell ill.

Late last year I was taken to the local hospital with severe stomach pain.

Within an hour and a half, the doctor who was looking after me said that the facilities at there hospital were limited and he had rung and discussed my situation with The Royal Flying Doctors Service who advised they could transport me to Mount Isa within the next hour. This in itself was such a relief as I was worried about what was going to happen to me.

After being transported to the airport The Royal Flying Doctor service put me on their plane and gave me a series of checks along with an ultrasound on a mobile machine. After the ultrasound the doctor said it appeared to him that I had a problem with my Gall Bladder. The people operating this service made me feel very cared for and I will be forever grateful to them.

I arrived in Mt Isa and was transported by ambulance to the Mt Isa Hospital. These people were so professional, they explained every move they were going to make and told me that I could ask for help at any time I felt uncomfortable.

It was decided that I would have a CT scan to see if they could figure out what was going on. This proved inconclusive so I was transported to the ward and after some pain killers had a very peaceful sleep for some hours.

Just after lunch I was sent for an ultrasound. The fellow who did this test said I had a small gall stone stuck in my bile duct.

Around mid-afternoon the Anaesthetist came to see me and said that after discussing with me, my health issues, he felt that the operation I needed would be better done at Townsville Hospital where the backup systems was far greater than at Mt Isa.

Early the next morning I was woken and prepared for my commercial flight to Townsville. I was given a letter from the hospital to Qantas, two taxi vouchers and a bandage I asked for to wrap over the two cannula I had. I was concerned the airline would be concerned over these as they looked a little nasty and could be knocked out. Just before the taxi left for the airport a woman who said she was from administration handed me a box that was marked blood and said that my blood test were done when I got to Mt Isa, and had shown some antibodies that would need cross matching if they were going to operate and the box contained some cross matched blood to help them out at Townsville.

On arrival at the Mt Isa airport my absolutely wonderful taxi driver went into the terminal and returned with a wheel chair and insisted on looking after me until the Qantas staff took over. When the box marked blood was handed over to the Qantas staff they said they could not take it as there were procedures to follow and as the plane was leaving within the hour these procedures could not be implemented. My taxi driver offered to take the box back to Mt Isa Hospital. To say I was sore and anxious by this time would have been an understatement.

Qantas landed in Townsville and delivered me to the taxi rank and the taxi driver took me to The Townsville Hospital main desk where I was asked to wait until I was called. This took over an hour and when I was signed in I was taken to a very busy surgical ward and looked after very well by the shift supervisor. After I had been given a meal I was moved to another ward.

I will attempt at this point to make this letter as simple as possible. There is so much I wanted to say to you but it has all come out sounding like a fairy tale, but believe me there are a group of nurses on this ward that will eventually bring this beautiful hospital into question. The senior staff seemed to be very efficient and most helpful but they seem to act differently around the staff they are there to supervise, it's hard to put this in to words of understanding.

During the first night I called for help to get out of bed to go to the toilet. The nurse came in and said they were not allowed to lift me out of bed, I said I only needed to sit up and I could do the rest myself. This nurse pulled the arm of the bed down, effectively stopping me from getting out by myself and told me that if I wet the bed I would have to sit in my own pee till the morning.

I spoke with the shift supervisor at shift change the following morning and she was terrific, looking after me for the rest of her shift.

There were another couple of instances like this one and someone sent the social worker in to see me. The social worker was able to calm what was left of my nerves. I got the impression that this fellow was aware of what was happening on this ward and the following day came in and gave me the address for both Patient Opinion and the Health Ombudsman and said I should write all this down and send it to them.

A further ultrasound was done which showed the stone in the bile duct had moved itself out of the way and they were sending me home. The night before I left this hospital, one of the sisters said my blood sugar levels were a little low and it was important for me to eat all my evening meal, it was found later on that this meal had been cancelled and no one could find out why.

The day before I left I asked for my morning Panadol as the surgeon had drummed it into me to be consistent in taking this tablet as it would help with my pain control. The sister checked my file and said the Panadol had been signed out and given to me at 6am, no one had been near my room for the past few hours.

On day of discharge I was given a letter for the airline and sent on my way but just before I left the ward one of the nursing staff asked where the blood was that had been given to me in Mt Isa to bring to Townsville? ! ! ! !

The cost of the taxi to the airport was $30. 20! ! ! Thankfully I had asked the sister to take me down to the ATM the night before.

By the time I had sat on the flight for an hour and a half I was in agony.

The shift supervisors on this ward were fantastic but after a while I came to realise they seemed aware of what was happening but were not able to, for whatever reasons, do anything about it.

A friend came to see me when I returned home and when I explained what had happened, she said her father had been on this ward earlier this year and he had suffered similar dramas but it all seemed to be confined to this particular ward and they were still very angry about it.

What I would like to know is why not have a portable ultrasound machine in our local town?

Would it not be possible to extend the internal transport to incorporate a vehicle to take patients to and from the hospital and airport? I found this to be my most anxious and painful episodes.

Do you have a similar story to tell? Tell your story & make a difference ››

Responses

Response from Julie Shepherd, Nurse Manager Patient Experience, Patient Services; Clinical Governance Directorate, Townsvillle Hospital and Health Services

Dear Worryingbehaviour,

Firstly let me say thank you for taking the time to tell your story, and more importantly for having the courage to speak out about your experience in one of our wards.

As you have described, this was a worrying and stressful time for you amplified by being away from your home and coupled with your pain and some anxious moments, it is obvious that what you really needed during this time was some compassion and understanding from those caring for you.

We have an expectation that all staff behave in a professional and respectful manner at all times. It is our duty to provide those in our care with dignity at all times. I apologise if this did not occur in your experience. Please know that this is certainly not the type of behaviour that should be tolerated, because by doing so; we accept it as being ok.

It is not.

For this reason, Worryingbehaviour, I strongly urge you to please contact our Nurse Manger of Patient Liaison Services directly, on 44331074 to discuss your circumstances further. We need to address the issues you have highlighted for us.

I am relieved that you did experience some very helpful and professional care on other occasions throughout your journey, but ultimately, I am sorry that you have had this particular experience with our service and I would like you to know that hearing stories such as yours is vital in terms of addressing concerns that need to be remedied.

Once again, I am really sorry that you have experienced our services in this way and you can be reassured that the story you have shared with us will be used to build improvements based on it.

I wish you all the very best for your future.

with warm regards,

Julie Shepherd

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