"My father was irresponsibly discharged from Emergency."

About: Box Hill Hospital

(as a relative),

My father was taken to Emergency at Box Hill Hospital this evening. He has a long history with hospital: he suffered from an on-going condition a few years ago, and has recently been diagnosed with cancer. All throughout those treatments, the staff of Box Hill were absolutely amazing, caring, and I honestly can't say enough good things about them.

Tonight, however, was a different story. He was taken in for a severe migraine that wasn't responding to his normal migraine medication. In the ER, he was given Largactil to ease the migraine, and was very mentally hazy. Good news: it helped with the migraine. Bad news: my mother left briefly, and my father was discharged by the ER in her absence. He had no shoes, no wallet, no phone, and was very clearly mentally impaired from the drugs.

When my mother returned to the hospital, the receptionist told her that he had been discharged, and that they didn't know where he was. She found him outside, sitting on the ground.

I am normally incredibly grateful to this hospital for their amazing staff, so this has left me shocked. What if he'd gotten confused and wandered off? They had no way of knowing how long my mother would be gone. Is there no way of ensuring that a patient has a safe way of getting home before they are discharged? In the end, my father got home safely, but this has raised serious concerns in me about the discharging policies in the ER, and the misfortune that could have very easily happened with my heavily drugged father being turned loose with nothing but the clothes on his back.

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Responses

Response from Alan Lilly, Chief Executive, Eastern Health

picture of Alan Lilly

Dear RizAus,

Thank you for sharing your story on Patient Opinion and alerting us to issues with the care of your father. I am troubled to say the least as to how this occurred and I am really very sorry that this was your father’s and your family’s experience on this occasion. This must have been quite concerning for your mother and I apologise for the distress which this may have caused for both of your parents. I also appreciate and note your kind words on the treatment received at other times at Box Hill Hospital. Thank you.

However, I do want to follow this up quickly for you and it would be very helpful if you would provide your father’s name so that I can address this in more detail with the staff. It’s important that we understand what occurred here and importantly, I want to ensure that we prevent a recurrence. If you would be so kind, please email me at alan.lilly@easternhealth.org.au and you can be reassured that I will look into this for you.

However, if you wish to remain anonymous, I will still have general discussions with the ER staff and I will respect your decision either way.

I hope to hear from you soon and thank you again for sharing your story so that we may continually improve the care and service we provide.

Many thanks and kind regards, Alan Lilly

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Update posted by RizAus (a relative)

Dear Mr Lilly,

Thank you for your prompt and kind response! I will email you ASAP.

I've been in contact with Sue at Patient Opinion - I filled in a few missing details on the story for her that my mother told me after I submitted my initial story. She's asked me to share them here so that staff may read them too.

After my father was discharged in my mother's absence, he was given the opportunity to use the receptionist's phone to call her so that he could tell her he'd been discharged. My mother didn't hear his call, though, so it went through to voice mail -- which meant that it could have been hours before mum returned. The receptionist may not have been listening all that closely, and perhaps assumed that he'd be getting picked up as soon as he left Emergency.

My mother got back to the hospital about twenty minutes after that. When she asked the receptionist where he was, the receptionist said they didn't know, and suggested that he might have gotten a taxi home - which would have been impossible, since my dad didn't have his phone or his wallet (or even his shoes). When my mother found him, he was sitting in the car park, clearly confused about where he was, and he didn't recognize who she was for a short while either.

In the end, he was okay, but I do feel that he shouldn't have been discharged when he was so clearly mentally impaired from medication, and had no way to get himself home if my mother hadn't gone back (and the staff weren't aware of when my mother was going back, so he could have been out there for hours). Things could have gotten a lot worse if he'd decided to wander onto the road, or try to make his own way home.

I'm fairly certain what happened was that his case probably just slipped through the cracks, since the staff of Box Hill are normally fantastic. I just hope that, in sharing this story, I can provide a little help in mending that crack, and prevent it from happening to other patients:)

Response from Alan Lilly, Chief Executive, Eastern Health

picture of Alan Lilly

Dear RizAus

Thank you for getting in touch with me by email. With those additional details, I will ensure that this is looked into right away and one of our Patient Relations Advisors (most likely Laura or Sharon) will be in touch with you.

Thanks again and kind regards, we will be in touch.

Alan Lilly.

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Response from Alan Lilly, Chief Executive, Eastern Health

picture of Alan Lilly

Dear RizAus

By way of an update and "closing the loop", Sharon has advised me that she has been in touch with you and has also sent you an email in this regard. I was pleased to note that as a result of your feedback, the Emergency Department is reviewing strategies for monitoring of those patients who have been discharged but are waiting to be picked up either by family or taxi.

So, thank you again for taking the time to get in touch and also, allowing us the opportunity to continually improve our services into the future.

Kind regards, Alan Lilly.

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