"Lack of communication"

About: Fiona Stanley Hospital

(as a relative),

Firstly I would like to thank you, the staff for the physical care they demonstrated towards my wife, while undergoing surgery on early this year at Fiona Stanley Hospital. They assisted her while she was injured and feeling very unwell.

Unfortunately I cannot make the same statement regarding her or my emotional well being. I left my wife at 5.30 p.m. when she went for surgery and returned an hour later. I waited patiently in her room until 8.30 p.m. when I was told to leave.

I only left having been assured that the staff would call me when she came back to the ward after her surgery. I never received a phone call and tried to call the number given, but never once managed to get through to staff to check on her progress.

After a particularly stressful and disturbed night at 7 a.m. I finally managed to talk to the staff, but I felt they were particularly unforthcoming and refused to give any information over the phone regardless of the fact that I am legally her wife and listed as her next of kin on all the paperwork that was completed.

I finally called my wife directly to make sure that she was ok. She was stressed, as prior to her going into surgery I had promised that I would be there on her return.

 Although in Western Australia “Next of Kin” has no legal definition - it is a common law term that has traditionally meant the closest relative by blood or marriage. This is further explained as

(i)   legally married to the person; or

(ii)  of or over the age of 18 years and in a marriage-like relationship (whether the persons are different sexes or the same sex) with the person; 

I can see no reason that your staff would not call me or provide me with information over the phone, unless they were behaving in a discriminatory and disrespectful manner.

Their apparent lack of emotional care caused unnecessary angst and distress to both myself and my wife.

Research clearly shows that after surgery a patient can feel depressed or anxious without the thoughtlessness of staff adding to this.

In addition research also states  - Wound healing is a critical process involved in the recovery from injury and surgical procedures. Poor healing increases the risk for wound infections or complications, lengthens hospital stays, magnifies patient discomfort, and slows return to activities of daily living. Converging evidence from different research paradigms suggest that psychological stress and other behavioural factors can affect wound healing.

I would like an explanation for the staff members behaviour and certainly an apology.

 

Responses

Response from Neil Doverty, Executive Director, Fiona Stanley Fremantle Hospitals Group, South Metropolitan Health Service

picture of Neil Doverty

Dear Nox

Thank you for sharing your feedback on Patient Opinion. I was disappointed to read of your experience at Fiona Stanley Hospital.

We acknowledge your frustration regarding ward visiting hours and apologise for any distress this may have caused. Though these hours are explicit in hospital policy and on entry to ward, Fiona Stanley Hospital recognises the crucial part that family members and caregivers play in patient recovery. As a result of your feedback, a review of the visiting hours is currently underway.

Your claims of discrimination towards yourself and your family member are taken very seriously. Discrimination of any form will not be tolerated and is a breach of the expected standards of behaviour for our organisation and those prescribed in the Public Sector Code of Ethics, WA Health Code of Conduct and the Equal Opportunity Act. A formal investigation into these allegations will be completed and a more detailed response sent to you in the coming days.

In regard to your complaint around communication over the phone, there are strict laws that protect patient confidentiality, which includes the sharing of private and sensitive information over the phone. We understand this may be frustrating at times however, we always try to keep family members informed, ensuring that patient privacy and confidentiality is maintained. We would again like to apologise any breakdown in communication between our staff and yourself. The issues you raised will be shared on a local level with staff on the ward and, along with your feedback, used in further education for our health professionals.

We would again like to apologise for your negative experience and reaffirm our ongoing commitment to providing excellent health care for patients and their families. If you would like us to investigate the matter fully, please contact our Patient and Family Liaison Service on 6152 4013 or via email at FSHFeedback@health.wa.gov.au.

Kind regards

Neil Doverty

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