"Treated as a lower class citizen"

About: Box Hill Hospital Maroondah Hospital

(as the patient),

I have a high pain tolerance, however recently because of surgery and back issues, I have been experiencing an excruciating amount of pain.

I told the doctors etc. that I am a recovering alcoholic and had been sober for nearly 7 years. Thinking I was doing the right thing. 

I tired numerous positions throughout my time in hospital, just trying to get to sleep, however, the pain was so bad, that I have gone days without any sleep. I couldn't do anything to ease the pain. Eventually my surgeon arrived and was awesome. They found just the correct dose for me. For 1 day, I had minimal pain.

Then pain management came the next morning. While they were talking about what they wanted to do, I asked how's that? They've already unplugged me. I thought I had a say in my recovery. I also know pain management are an entity unto themselves, which, in my opinion, is so wrong. It's the nurses and the doctors, surgeons that do. So how do they manage such power and with what I feel is with a level of arrogance?

Most of the nurses dealing with me were just great, a lot, not so much. I had woken in pain sweats and my sheets and gown were soaking wet. After holding my breath, I decided to take a chance on the call button.  As the nurse walks in says, what is it now? Explained, they got me a very hard and stiff towel to put under me. There's too many to list. Nicole was great. Rosie, Meeya, Kathleen. There are more. I ended up walking out after a doctor came to see me and actually raised their voice telling me how I'd upset the nurses because they could see how much pain I was in but, of course, not allowed to do anything, so it wasn't on upsetting the nurses.

The doctor also said it was because of your alcoholism! OMG. It's now my fault, I was wondering why I was in so much pain that they didn't understand. I couldn't spend one more night in there, being treated like a child, who knew nothing about how their body works and I'm in my fifties and have had chronic pain since being a teenager.

I discharged myself with the promise I would come back for an X-ray. All blood tests and X-ray were done the next day at Maroondah. My doctor still doesn't know anything. The last they knew I had cancer and was going in for surgery. The doctor had no communication whatsoever. As I wasn't given aftercare instructions, I now have to go to Maroondah for redressing when I'm still very sore.


Response from Gayle Smith, Executive Director, Quality, Planning and Innovation, Eastern Health

picture of Gayle Smith

Dear Unhappy Camper,

Thank you for providing your feedback on Patient Opinion. It is clear that you have had a very mixed experience but overall we have not managed your pain effectively and I am sorry to hear that this caused you to leave the hospital. I am also sorry to hear that we have not communicated with your GP to ensure your follow up care is coordinated.

I would be most happy for the details of your experience to be reviewed. If you would like for that to occur I invite you to contact one of our Patient Relations Advisors in the Eastern Health Centre for Patient Experience either by calling 1800 EASTERN or by emailing feedback@easternhealth.org.au. If you choose to call please be aware that it is possible that the Patient Relations Advisors may be on another call at the time you ring and if so you will be invited to leave a message so they can return your call.

Thank you once again for your feedback and I hope that we hear from you,


Gayle Smith

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Update posted by Unhappy Camper (the patient)

Dear Gayle,

Thank you so much for your reply. I would actually like to complain about the Pain Management team. I was lead to believe this would start after my recovery. My surgeon was fantastic and most of the doctors, plus the younger nurses, as I said, apart from Kathleen who was just fantastic. The hospital realised that I needed more medication, as I have 2 crushed vertebrae and laying on my back for 12 days straight made it unbearable. Every time the hospital got my meds so I wasn't screaming, Pain Management would adjust and bring it down so I was screaming again. I was told that I would be included in all decisions of my recovery, but while Pain Management were telling me what they wanted to do they had already unplugged me, without asking. I feel they have way too much power over everyone. In my opinion, Pain Management should not be allowed to treat while recovering from a major operation.

Response from Gayle Smith, Executive Director, Quality, Planning and Innovation, Eastern Health

picture of Gayle Smith

Dear Unhappy Camper,

Thank you for your reply and the further details about your complaint. I will provide this feedback to the Pain Management service and ask them to review and consider it. Can I once again apologise that we did not manage your pain effectively.

The offer to contact us directly is still there if you wish to, but otherwise I hope that you are now receiving the care you need.



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