"My mother's devastation at not saying goodbye to my father"

About: Fiona Stanley Hospital / Emergency Department

(as a relative),

My father was transferred to Fiona Stanley Hospital via ambulance to the emergency department.

My mother arrived at the same time as the ambulance

She presented to triage and requested to be with my father, and as he was not on the register she was asked to wait.

After over 30 minutes of waiting, she went back to enquire and again asked to see my father, and was told to wait as they were very busy and to sit on the red chair, not black.

Waited another 30 minutes, asked again to see him, she contacted the nurses and was told that there were too many people there and there was no room for her. To wait another 10 minutes.

She waited another 30 minutes on the red chair and then a doctor wanted to speak to her. She was taken to a side room where a member of the surgical team who needed signing of consent to surgery and informed her of his condition. She was informed that he might not survive the surgery as he was extremely unwell. She asked to see her husband and was told she needed to wait and see the anaesthetist who again gathered information and asked to sign consent again. Again she asked to see him and was told that they would get a nurse to take her in. She waited for what to her was a long time, so again she asked the triage nurse, and an ED nurse apologised, that there was a miscommunication and he was already in theatre.

My father did not regain consciousness. He died then 24 hours later.

My parents had been married for 53 years. My father had been well that morning and his illness was unexpected and devastating.

My mother is devastated that she did not get to say goodbye to my father or that she was not shown any compassion by numerous staff. This is something she cannot fix.

For an organisation that promotes compassionate care to the patients, their carers and family can you please let me know where this involvement begins? I am sure my father would have found reassurance and peace if my mother was able to tell him she loved him and goodbye.

I would also like to sincerely thank the Intensive Care team for their exceptional care of my father and family. Three staff members, in particular, were wonderful. He was shown dignity and respect. We were welcomed and were allowed to spend time with him that we will treasure. Also, thank you for for the hospitality of food and drink - much appreciated.

The ED team could learn from the ICU team. Such a different experience.

Responses

Response from Janet Zagari, Executive Director, Fiona Stanley Fremantle Hospital Group, South Metropolitan Health Service

picture of Janet Zagari

Dear Thanks team

Can I begin by expressing my sincere condolences to you and your family, particularly your mother at this difficult time following the loss of your father.

It is very difficult to provide feedback on the circumstances of your mother’s experience in the ED at FSH without knowing the date, time and your father’s details.

Generally speaking, during critical incidents, relatives are supported by nursing staff, social workers or pastoral care. This will depend on the time of day the presentation to the ED occurs.

Family members or next of kin can be a witness to a resuscitation in the ED although there are circumstances where this may not be appropriate. Patients who need urgent access to a theatres often have many time critical procedures happening which can make it difficult to accommodate non clinical staff in the cubicle. Enabling family members to spend time with the patients is always encouraged, however, again this is not always possible in cases where it is critical that the patient is transferred to another area of the hospital for urgent interventions/procedures.

From the feedback that you have provided, I would agree that we could have performed significantly better at providing timely feedback to your mother on what was happening with your father. I would like to apologise for this, and to better understand the circumstances in which this occurred and to learn where we can improve. If you or your mother feel ready to discuss what occurred I would appreciate it if you could contact the Patient Family and Liaison services on phone 6152 4013 or FSHFeedback@health.wa.gov.au to provide the detail to enable an investigation to take place. The Head of Emergency Medicine and the Nurse Unit Manager for the ED would also be happy to meet with you, your mother and other family members to discuss what occurred.

Thank you for your kind words regarding the care that was provided by the ICU team, this has been passed on to them.

Kind regards

Janet Zagari

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Update posted by Thanks team (a relative)

Thank you for this response.

My concern is that she requested five times to see my father within 2 hours.

She was an ED nurse and aware of resuscitation, however, no clinician discussed what was occurring or offered her any information on what was happening in the ED.

Surgical and anaesthetic doctors spoke with her and said they would organise for her to see him. This did not occur.

I will contact as you suggested, however, we feel very let down.

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