"Experience of hospital stay for a booked eye procedure"

About: Sydney / Sydney Eye Hospital

(as a carer),

Admission experience: 

My spouse was being admitted for an eye procedure and I accompanied them. My spouse has suffered two significant medical error events in the past. One was significant complications from eye surgery and the other a medication error resulting in significant complications with a recovery period of four years, unable to perform normal duties during this time. Naturally, we were very anxious about anything going wrong.

We were greeted by the receptionist with a smile. She introduced herself & confirmed who we were. Provided information, answered our queries & directed us to the waiting area.

After a while, we were greeted by a nurse & taken to a crowded room of people being admitted and having observations taken. Our nurse showed us to our seats, positioned in-between nurses and patients either side of us. We were already uncomfortable with the environment, when a nurse one side of us made us feel unwelcome as she asked us to move away, claiming patient privacy, though provided no alternate place to go.  Our nurse proceeded to introduce herself as a student nurse and explained it was her first time to admit a patient on her own. She proceeded to ask about my spouse's personal details and took their temp., pulse & blood pressure. She recorded their temperature as 39.8 degrees c and blood pressure 200/140. I believe she failed to escalate any concern.

After a while, what appeared to be our nurses supervising nurse arrived, reviewed the observations and proceeded to take another set of observations, to find they were within normal limits. We understood the student nurse needs experience to partake in nursing duties, however our confidence with our hospital admission was diminishing rapidly as there was a lack of supervision by the supervising nurse.

We were taken into another room and asked to be seated, though there were no chairs available to sit on. We took ourselves back to the waiting area, & notified the student nurse as we couldn't locate the supervising nurse - though remained anxious in case my spouse's name was called for the next part of admission to surgery. Our student nurse proceeded to administer eye medication to my spouse, again without supervision. She didn't have a medication chart with her, so we couldn't check with her if the right medication was being administered. We were also concerned hand washing may not have been attended. We felt very stressed the student nurse had a significant lack of guidance by her supervising nurse and could possibly have placed my spouse at risk of harm.

Our journey to theatre, with initial assessment by the theatre nurse, eye surgeon & anaesthetist were very comforting and relieved our anxiety as we had confidence in their level of skill through our interactions and addressing our concerns.

When my spouse's surgery was completed and taken to the ward, the nurses on the ward phoned me to notify me where my spouse was. This made me feel like they were understanding, respectful & truly cared. My spouse's needs of pain management, toileting, access to food and comfort in bed during their stay overnight and the next morning were very well managed. The morning nurse prepared my spouse for discharge and took the time to explain the eye drop's purpose & regime and ensured we understood.

We noted my spouse was not provided with an eye pressure lowering medication or even a script. From my spouse's previous eye surgery, they suffered significant issues with eye pressure, and was aware of the symptoms. We requested to consult with the doctor prior to discharge, to have a back up plan just in case - i.e. a script for the medication. The nurse respected our request and paged the doctor, who eventually answered the page, I believe though refused to speak with us and stated the eye pressure reducing medication was not needed. We left reluctantly on discharge, feeling very disempowered and disrespected by the medical doctor.

Two days later, we had to bring my spouse back to the eye hospital emergency department, an hours drive away, paying additional parking costs, as they experienced symptoms of raised eye pressure, which was confirmed upon assessment. Sadly, this was during my child's end of year dance concert which my spouse missed. My child felt stressed during their performances knowing their parent had gone to hospital and wasn't there to support my child. The significant stress, impact on all of us as a family, as well as financial cost could have been mitigated if only the doctor took five minutes of their time to properly address our concerns prior to discharge. 

It's been a few months since this last eye surgery, and my spouse remains on three different eye drops to assist to lower their eye pressure.    

Responses

Response from Jennie Barry, Director of Nursing & Support Services, Nursing Services, Sydney/Sydney Eye Hospital

Dear Admission experience,

I am sorry to read your feedback and hear that you and your spouse had an unsatisfactory experience during his planned admission for eye surgery. I understand that anxiety already experienced by having to undergo an operation was worsened by your uncertainty regarding the nursing care provided in the day procedure unit and by the medical staff on the day of discharge. I would be happy to discuss your experience further and investigate your concerns if you would like; please email us at SESLHD-SSEHExecutiveServices@health.nsw.gov.au with your contact details. Thank you for taking the time to give your feedback, I trust that your spouse’s eye and pressure is improving.

Kind regards

Jennie

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