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"Concerned that my mother couldn't get the attention she needed."

About: Box Hill Hospital

(as a carer),

Took my mother to Emergency recently, she is elderly and has a number of health issues, one of which is Diabetes.

I had given her her lunch injections and shower and I chose Box Hill because you have undercover parking and it was raining. Well done on that.

We waited till triage took us into Emergency, gave all info to doctor, there didn’t seem to be a nurse assigned to that particular cubical the doctor said, so she got us to do urine and bloods were taken. I was feeling a bit nervous because it was getting near to Mum's dinner time. I had given her our last gluten free biscuit so it was up to the hospital now because I couldn't leave her. Mum was extremely confused due to other health issues.

They finally got her some food and I administered her insulin on supervision of nurse appointed later that day, by her instructions.

Someone saw us and said they wanted to keep Mum overnight or they could admit her for 2 days. We chose overnight. And we were sent to short stay and again I had to answer all the questions we had on entry.

My concern was I could not leave because I don’t believe her diabetes was being attended to correctly, food times did not at any time correspond with her diabetic needs and it was impossible for your staff to find Gluten free.

So for the first day I left well after visiting time because I was not comfortable that Mum's dietary needs were in control. I rang early next day and I was told she could leave, so we went in to Box Hill. We arrived and Mum, even though still very confused, told me she had only been given one needle? I sought confirmation and a lovely doctor saw me. The nurse who attended was lovely also and while she was on break someone else administered needles. I was told that the Pharmacy could not supply that needle?

So I asked for the process to be rushed so I could get her home and give her injections. Next a major sister or nurse I think said that she could not leave with such high sugar level. So they gave her a different injection and we took her home.

Mum’s reading was high at lunch so gave her what the GP had told me. Mum was ok but still the same as the day before. Very high sugar, very confused and very frightened and upset. I had given her lunch and showered her and put her in the electric recliner for a rest. Mum rested for half hour and was calling to get up, my sister helped her and she passed out. Ambulance arrived within 10 minutes and checked her out. She was sweating so the monitors wouldn't stick.....Hello! ! ! ! !

After 15 or 20 mins they transported her to Box Hill and she passed out again and we got the revive lecture again and again. While the second ambo came.

My sister went with them and Mum did it again, plus some ridiculous number for blood pressure, all the hospital staff said, so she has been revived?

No she hasn't. And she never needed this she has a strong body and she is fit.

Me and my sister had to leave then so our other sister was with Mum after that till end of visiting hours. My sister again was asking for a meal because her blood would be getting low, again after waiting another 40 minutes she was getting worried. So insisted she be tested and she was very low and just before hypoglycaemic they put intravenous glucose via drip and my sister requested some food. We only have sandwiches but they are not gluten free and the kitchen is not open..... was the response again! ! My sister saw red, said she has her mother in emergency and food to a Diabetic Celiac was a crucial medication and the kitchen needs to get her a meal immediately. That meal arrived in 10 minutes.

Mum was sent to a ward and my sister stayed for the rest of time and my other sister was with her for a couple of days. My sister had gone in and given her a shower and put her in her own pyjamas a couple of days earlier and was shocked to come in and find her in a hospital gown and neck brace. Apparently mum was asleep and was left her supper but didn't eat it. She was found on the floor with a very low reading, again hypoglycaemic to the most dangerous level.

My sister made some stern requests and all food was marked with Gluten free and supervising was done to make sure she received and ate her medication.

I arrived to take mum home.

The main doctor insisted she should have another 24 hours observation because they did something wrong with times of needles or something but I insisted that Box Hill could not provide the care we gave at home and I believe that he could not disagree, I constantly check her blood levels and food is always on time.

Two hours in still waiting on people to pass us out and I have an elderly man at home who can't walk more than two steps.

So a young doctor moves along to other people and we are stuck for lunch. By the way mums sandwich which I showed to one doctor and three nurses had what I think was a mouldy spot on the half eaten gluten bread. Foul!


Gluten Free food for Emergency and short stay Units.

Prepackaged no mould.

Information to be compiled via computer for each patient and then passed to each department not having to repeat over and over again. Luckily I have a folder with all Mum's info and care plan so they could refer to that.

Pharmacy.....why did I get the story about not having the needle? ?

Why does it appear that one department does not know what the other is doing? Why does the left hand not know what the right hand is doing?

I saw many great doctors and nurses doing their best but systems are not working for the patients that can't speak for themselves. I was asked if I would cut up Mum's food for her, later I realised that the food they wanted her to eat to have her Diabetes monitored was too hard for her false teeth.

Luckily mum has improved since I got her home. I would hate to think what damage her fall and hypo's could have done to someone not as fit as my mother.

Thanks for the opportunity to vent my concerns.

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Response from Alan Lilly, Chief Executive, Eastern Health 8 years ago
Alan Lilly
Chief Executive,
Eastern Health
Submitted on 3/03/2016 at 5:30 AM
Published on Care Opinion at 8:58 AM

picture of Alan Lilly

Dear Concerned for my mother

Thank you for sharing your story on Patient Opinion. I am so sorry to read and learn about your experience in our Emergency Department and how we have fallen short of meeting both your own and your mother's needs and expectations at the time when you needed our care and attention.

I must admit that I was disappointed to read about specific issues with regard to pharmacy (the needles) and the gluten-free diet requirements, both of which are part of what we manage in our hospitals everyday. I can only imagine that there has been a major breakdown in communication and I am so sorry for that.

The nature of the issues you raise rightfully requires a full investigation and I would like to take the time to look into the specifics of these matters. If you would be kind enough to email me confidentially at with some more details, I will arrange a full review and this will allow you to have peace of mind knowing that you have raised these issues and more importantly, to know that we will do better to prevent a recurrence.

Kind regard and once again, I am so sorry that you have experienced our care and service like this. I want to be able to help you. Venting your concerns helps us do better too.

Alan Lilly

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