"Poor treatment within a hospital setting"

About: Northam Health Service / Emergency Department

(as a carer),

My parent is elderly, is unable to hear or speak and is very vulnerable. We presented at Northam Hospital recently and I explained to the triage nurse that my parent was experiencing delirium and very concerned, suspected Urinary Tract Infection. The initial triage nurse was lovely. My parent was taken into the Emergency Department and I spoke with the Doctor and I explained that my parent was experiencing delirium and that it occurred very abruptly and my parent was displaying similar symptoms as per their previous admission a month earlier where they had a fall at midnight, ambulance called, gashed their head requiring stitches, broken collar bone and delirium and discharged the same night. The Doctor completed a urine test which returned negative reading and the doctor advised that they would not be sending the sample to pathology and suggested I see a GP, it was probably dementia and to obtain a referral to Geriatrician. I explained quite clearly this delirium was sudden overnight and prior to this my parent was catching the share and care bus to attend shopping.

Upon returning home and through that night I made two phone calls to Northam Hospital quite distressed as my parent was deteriorating and the responses were very unhelpful. I made an appointment with the local GP who stated that dementia does not occur overnight and my parent’s symptoms are the cause of an infection and reorder the urine test and blood test. My parent deteriorated significantly over the coming days, my parent was not sleeping at night, found my parent crawling along the floorboards, seeing people who were not present, making sandwiches for children who were not present, trying to catch a bus at 3.30 pm to go home, running into walls etc. A few days after the initial ED admission was the worst and I could no longer communicate with my parent. Attending the GP the next day and the urine test returned a positive reading of Ecoli. By this time days had passed and my parent’s condition worsening and the GP provide a script for medication which was exactly the same medication my parent had been on for four days without any improvement.

We presented at ED and again I explained all the symptoms and again explained this was an overnight change of character and the Dr admitted my parent to the ward. Since being on the ward my parent has not improved, my parent is still wearing the same clothes they presented in, nil record of my parent having a shower, nil interpreter provided and nil confirmation of what my parent is being treated for and nil improvement. I feel that my parent has been left in a room without any improvement in a delirious state and deteriorating and no one seems to care. My parent is extremely vulnerable without a voice. I am extremely concerned that the infection has not been located or treated appropriately and concerned the impact is having on my parent’s overall health and possibility of permanent damage to my parent. The fact that my parent has not showered since admission and is still wearing the same clothes and their deterioration, I feel is evidence of the lack of treatment and care my parent is being provided, which is no less than appalling. My parent needs help.

Responses

Response from Sean Conlan, Regional Director, WA Country Health Service - Wheatbelt We are preparing to make a change

Dear The Vulnerable,

I was very saddened to read the story that you shared with us concerning the care of your parent at Northam Health Service.

First and foremost, I sincerely apologise if we in any way caused additional stress for your parent, yourself and your family at what would have been an already stressful time for you. I found your story difficult to read and can completely understand why you would have felt frightened and frustrated when your parent became unwell. I am pleased to hear that you have since met with and spoken with some of our staff and that you will be working with us to examine the circumstances around the care and treatment of your parent so that we can fully understand what happened.

One of the changes that we will make as a result of you sharing your story with us is that we will implement a process of documentation that specifies the recording of a daily shower regime, particularly for our patients who are experiencing delirium, so that we can ensure that their hygiene needs are clearly met.

I would like you to know that we have listened to your concerns and that if you need to discuss any aspects of your parent's care, now and into the future, please contact the Ward Nurse Manager (with the contact details we have provided) who will be very happy to help you in any way.

In addition to this if you feel staff are not listening to your concerns, you can escalate through our CARE Call Program on 1800 994 063. This is a three step program that allows families and carers to call for assistance when they are worried about a change in the patient’s health condition or are unclear about the more immediate next steps in care or treatment.

Again, I would like to thank you for sharing your story. Our patients and their families are important to us and we are genuinely grateful to hear and learn from what we are told so that we can shape and improve the care that we provide to people when they are at their most vulnerable. I sincerely hope that your parent makes a full recovery and is able to return home very soon.

Kind Regards

Sean

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Update posted by The Vulnerable (a carer)

Thank for your quick response, however after all testing etc my parent's condition has not improved and I did request that they were transferred to another hospital and this did not occur. I received a phone call today from the Doctor on duty who is concerned that my parent has not improved and is attempting to transfer my parent to a different hospital and at this stage there are no beds available. I believe my parent is deteriorating and I have called the CARE number provided in an effort for someone to take action before it's to late.

Response from WACHS - Wheatbelt

Dear The Vulnerable,

Thank you for your response regarding the care and treatment of your parent. I acknowledge that this is a very difficult and stressful time for you and I understand your frustration and concern about the need to transfer your parent to a metropolitan hospital.

I’m aware that despite system-wide pressures for beds, the Northam and St John of God Hospitals collaborated well to ensure that your parent was transferred as quickly as possible.

I would like to wish your parent a speedy recovery and hope that they are able to return home as soon as possible.

Kind regards

Marie Baxter

Acting Regional Director

WA Country Health Service Wheatbelt

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