"Hospital admission felt like a shambles, wish I went private"

About: Prince of Wales Hospital

(as the patient),

I was admitted and ended up staying 5 days. I felt the communication between staff while I was in hospital was appalling. From the moment I was admitted I felt no one had the time or cared to stop and explain to me what was happening to me. I lay in emergency for 5 hours before someone actually told me I'd be staying overnight. Once I was in my room it was as though I wasn't there. Nearly all of my meals were forgotten, I had to call the nurses each day after I heard breakfast/lunch being served and waiting patiently only to learn I had been forgotten again. I was in an isolation room due to illness so felt very much like staff couldn't be bothered gowning up to tend to me when I called.

My obs were taken by a student nurse - who told me it was their last day of placement. The student’s supervising nurse left the room and I basically had to explain to the student how to take my blood pressure and had to remind them to take my temperature and oxygen saturation. Frightening to think this was the student’s last day and no one was monitoring them. I feel that the orthopaedic registrar’s bedside manner was awful and dismissive.

I felt that valuable money is being wasted, an after hours specialist had to come in on the weekend to see me as the messages didn't get appropriately processed on the Friday that I needed an ultrasound. I waited all day Saturday for the investigation only to learn when I finally got called down that the sonographer had been waiting 1.5 hours for me. I could have wheeled myself down or my parent who was present could have helped me down however I was not told the sonographer had arrived. I feel that this was wasted money and time!

My cannula was inserted poorly and I mentioned to every nurse that would listen how much the IV ABs were hurting,  however each staff member kept telling me, hmm that's strange, we'll keep an eye on this, until my arm was in so much pain I couldn't lift it and couldn't feel my fingers, finally the nurse unit manager was called only to tell me the cannula had tissued and I needed a new one, great news after 24 hours of suffering!

Overall I was very disappointed. I felt I had to speak up and loudly to make sure I was receiving appropriate management, which I feel sure lots of people wouldn't do. If I hadn't spoke up originally I feel I would have been discharged prematurely, then following this I probably would have been kept in far too long which again I feel is a waste of valuable resources. I will not visit a public hospital again in a hurry.


Response from Alan Porritt, Co-Director, Prince of Wales Hospital

picture of Alan Porritt

Dear Flabbergasted

I am so sorry for this experience, which does not reflect the level of service we aim to provide at Prince of Wales Hospital.

While the majority of emergency admissions are placed within four hours, there are at times delays in either a decision to admit, or in releasing a suitable bed. However it is our expectation that in all cases you are kept well informed during your emergency stay. It doesn't sound like this has occurred.

The overall coordination of your care on the ward is also not within our usual standards. It does sound from what you are saying that you were informed by the treating team of the plan of care, and that this care was provided, but poorly coordinated. With imaging in particular, we are aiming to improve the timeliness of urgent and emergency tests at Prince of Wales, and we are definitely seeing improvements overall. I am interested that this test occurred on a weekend and have referred the matter of scheduling urgent tests on weekends to the director of that service. Your suggestion that we communicate test times to patients is a good one. We clearly have more work to do on this.

As a teaching hospital, you will encounter students across all disciplines at Prince of Wales. I can assure you at all times your care is assigned to a qualified nurse, who checks the work of the student. If at any time you are concerned about the care provided by a student, you may always ask to see the nurse. Student nurses conduct competencies in core skills including vital signs at their respective university and our staff will feedback to the facilitators if they are not confident with skills.

And finally with regard to your intravenous line, I am sorry that there was a delay in addressing the patency of the cannula. We do ask our staff to listen and respond to patient concerns and it is not expected that intravenous therapy should be as painful as you describe. I'm glad the nurse manager was able to resolve the matter for you.

You have identified several issues within your complaint which allow room for improvement. If you are willing, I would very much like to review your complaint with the team involved as a learning opportunity. If you are willing to have this occur, please email; alan.porritt@health.nsw.gov.au with your details or call 02 9382 2892

Thank you for taking the time to provide us this feedback.

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