"Unfair treatment in the Emergency Department"

About: Epworth Richmond / General medicine

(as a relative),

My adult child presented to the Emergency Department (ED) one night with a severe headache and stiff neck, and I stayed with them for nearly all the night, leaving early in the morning to take their baby home, and returning later on that morning.

My child's situation was complicated as they were under investigation for Addison’s Disease (diagnosis confirmed). The Triage Nurse suspected meningitis, which in fact was the eventual diagnosis, but, long story short, my child spent the next 21 hours in the ED, much of this time being treated as if they had a migraine, including being given IV Largactil. The overnight nursing staff were incurious to say the least, and many of them, I feel, were very unpleasant, including, for example, much eye-rolling.

My child's breakfast was left out of their reach (just before I returned). They were even reproved for moaning! The noise level (medical staff talking very loudly about their weekend plans) made my child's pain worse. It wasn’t till shift change that a new nurse noticed my child's temperature spike and a lumbar puncture was organised. I was getting alarmed and tried to invoke the “if you’re worried, we’re worried” protocol and was basically told to get lost. My child was finally moved to an isolation room after 20 hours, about half an hour before being admitted.

The incuriosity meant that large numbers of vulnerable people, including an infant and elderly patients, were exposed to potential infection. Also, of course, my child's suffering was exacerbated. It was a truly horrible experience, ameliorated only by the kindness of one single nurse, one orderly, and one doctor. We had to advocate for ourselves (demanding the lumbar puncture, demanding the results, insisting on prophylactic antibiotics etc.) to a crazy extent, considering how sick my child was with meningitis and the then-unmedicated Addison’s. Simple professional kindness would have improved the situation. I feel professional development is required for nursing attitude to patient pain and “if you’re worried, we’re worried” posters should either be removed or taken seriously.  

Responses

Response from Patient Opinion, Patient Opinion Australia

This response is on behalf of Epworth Richmond:

Hi Flossy,

First of all, we’re very sorry to hear that you waited for 21 hours with your child in our emergency department before being admitted & that you felt you had to advocate for yourselves during this time.

We’re disappointed to hear about the noise levels & that the food was left out of reach. Rest assured your feedback has been passed onto our team so that it can be addressed.

We’d love to be able to follow this up with you & your child directly, so if you would like to do so, you can get in touch with us via email at erpatientfeedback@epworth.org.au or by phone at 03 9426 6219.

We wish you & your family all the best & if there’s anything else we can do for you, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Thanks,

Louisa

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