"Seems to be a lack of values and duty of care."

About: Angliss Hospital Box Hill Hospital

(as a parent/guardian),

My daughter had an operation at the Angliss Hospital toward the end of last year. The operation involved removal of benign tumours & her left ovary. We have been informed that her urethra was damaged during the surgery. I do not know the exact damage; however she has since had to undergo a further operation to reconstruct her urethra and bladder. She will need to have a stent removed down the track.

During the first surgery at Angliss my daughter endured immense pain and there appeared to be conflict between the recovery staff and the ward staff. I believe it was because Recovery wanted the Ward to receive my daughter from recovery knowing her pain was unbearable. Ward staff explained to my husband & myself that they were not comfortable with her returning to the ward until her pain subsided & was better controlled. I may add & rightly so. The nurses are busy enough without having to deal with a patient who obviously was not well enough to return to the ward.

When my daughter finally arrived in the ward she was still in pain and this was treated with Morphine & other medications in an effort to relieve her pain. I am unsure of exact dosages and what medications, however you will be able to determine these from her medical records.

My daughter was discharged the next day from Angliss Hospital. After arriving at the hospital I found her in the transit lounge still in pain, nauseous and extremely sleepy. I asked for a bag for her to be sick in and this was brought to her by a staff member. I questioned at the time if she was in a position to return home

Upon returning to home my daughter experienced bouts of uncontrollable pain that even the medications she was provided did not subside. Later that night she became very ill and her temperature was rising as well as being in pain.

I called for an ambulance and she was taken back to Angliss and once again back in the ward. The next day I received a call from a gynaecologist who then explained there had been damage done to my daughter’s bladder during the surgery and she needed another operation but she needed to be transferred to Box Hill hospital for this.

The second operation was performed the next day and I picked her up from hospital five days later around midday. She was sent home with a catheter and as I am not a nurse I had no idea on how to care for this. I rang the Royal District Nursing Association who then told me that if we needed their assistance it needed to have been organised via her discharge from Box Hill. This was not done so after some floundering I eventually got the hang of it by reading the instruction booklet, but I believe as her primary carer I too should have been given a demonstration on how to change the catheter.

Lastly every time I called to check how my daughter was recovering whilst at Box Hill I was always cut off...the phone always rang out. I never once got to check...I never spoke to a staff member by phone. I question this as a parent I should have been able to speak to a staff member regarding my daughter’s well-being.

There have been a number of issues that I am concerned about and I believe need to be addressed, these are:

1. My daughter should never have been discharged from the Angliss as she was in pain, nauseous & unwell. Surely an indicator that something was seriously amiss!

2. This damage to her bladder has been devastating for her & us as a family.

3. No phone communication from nursing staff when I rang as the phone rang out.

4. There appears to be a shortage of staff? Why are there not more ward clerks?

5. I am not the sort of nuisance person who makes complaints just for the sake of it.

6. I am very disturbed at how my daughter has been treated and I feel angry she has had to endure so much pain and an operation that went so terribly wrong!

I suggest the issues I have pointed out require investigation & rectifying to avoid further insult & pain to others.

I also hope you take note of the staffing in your hospitals and that more thought is put into place regarding the discharge of patients.

I also believe that there is too much assuming & judgements made regarding a person’s pain tolerance. My daughter has a high tolerance for pain & this was stated often to staff. Her pleas that something is wrong went unheard; she was not being listened to.

I do wish to compliment the surgeons and the team at Box Hill for their wonderful response to my daughter’s situation and for the care that was shown to her during her recovery in the ward.

Dr. Brad was particularly sensitive to my daughter’s situation and his explanation, empathy and reassurance regarding her surgery was much appreciated.

My daughter was scared, unwell to respond fully & he alleviated her fears to a certain extent which was very important for her well-being in regards to having to go through more surgery to rectify the damage done to her urethra.

My daughter endured pain & has been emotionally compromised. Quite honestly I feel her whole being was compromised. I am personally worried about my daughter’s future now as a result of the urethral damage.

It is not easy for any parent looking on and feeling helpless in the knowledge that her child was not cared for appropriately.

Every patient has the right to feel safe & listened to and cared for.

I do hope you can understand our grief in this situation.

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Responses

Response from Alan Lilly, Chief Executive, Eastern Health

picture of Alan Lilly

Dear Concerned mother,

First of all, let me say how sorry I am to read about your daughter’s experience at Angliss Hospital. I understand that you would be upset about this and I am alarmed too when I read the detail.

Secondly, at the outset, I want you know that we will work with you to resolve these issues and importantly, learn from your experience so that we can prevent a recurrence.

You have raised a number of issues related to lack of care and I can’t imagine why this has happened. There are no excuses for poor care and I can also assure you that we meet mandated staffing level requirements and these are also regularly extended as required. You also raise a number of issues about planning for discharge and communication, including the unanswered phone.

Then, when I read that you have made contact with Eastern Health and we have not responded, I am even more concerned. We really do pride ourselves on responding to all feedback and share this with our staff as part of our process of feedback for improvement.

I would like to arrange a full investigation into the issues which you have raised as well as the matter of sending a letter and an email without a response from us.

Based on the facts which have been raised, I can indeed have very general discussions and piece little pieces of information together but it would be even better and more targeted if I could have a conversation with you and discuss a plan of action.

I would welcome your contact and if you could email me privately on alan.lilly@easternhealth.org.au and provide your contact details, I will happily give you a call.

I look forward to hearing from you and please be reassured, that I am here to help and not make it harder for you.

Kind regards, Alan Lilly

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Response from Alan Lilly, Chief Executive, Eastern Health

picture of Alan Lilly

Dear Concerned mother

Thank you again for taking the time to speak with me on the phone earlier this week. It was good to talk and as we discussed, to focus on the things which we both agree are important to improving care for our patients and their families.

I know also that Jo Gatehouse has been in touch and a meeting with you is being planned for when your daughter is feeling better following her more recent operation.

In the meantime concerned mother, please let me know if I can help or assist any further.

Kind regards, Alan Lilly

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Update posted by Concerned mother (a parent/guardian)

Thank you Mr Lilly,

It was very reassuring to hear from you and that the issues mentioned will be followed up. It is not about blame merely that more thought should be put into place when a patient says something is wrong....we as humans know our own bodies.

I would not like to see this happen to another person. We are only human and things happen however it just goes to show we need to listen. My daughter is slowly recovering from the surgery she had at Angliss. As mentioned she has had surgery not related to the previous surgery I have discussed. You can imagine how uneasy she felt after going through the previous incident but thankfully the Box Hill Hospital doctors were wonderful and alleviated her anxiety. I thank you sincerely for your compassion and concern.