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"My child's care and operation"

About: Box Hill Hospital

(as a parent/guardian),

My child had an appointment for an operation at Box Hill Hospital.

I was at the ward from mid morning and I went straight up to the reception desk where I checked my child in. I provided the nurse on duty with my child’s health care card and also our Medicare care. The nurse went through all the details - name, my name, DOB, address, phone number. Everything was correct and she pointed me to the waiting room down the hall to the left.

I waited there for a while until I was greeted by a staff member who went through the procedure and pain relief my child would need afterwards. The staff member asked if I had any questions - which I did have a question in regards to the pain blocker that was like an epidural. The staff member suggested another way and suggested for me to talk to the anaethetist about the procedure because he would know more. The staff member explained to me that I could go in and watch my child go to sleep and that I could give my child a kiss goodbye once under anaesthetic. I was more than happy with the things that the staff member was saying and they went to get my child a nurse to do my child’s OB’s so we could get underway for the surgery.

I was then shown to a bed where a nurse checked my child’s oxygen levels, blood pressure, temperature and put leg and wrist bands on and checked the details attached. We noticed that the phone number was wrong and she made several attempts to get the nurse to reprint stickers. She then put numbing cream on my child's hands and I asked her if we could possibly put them on my child's feet too, as we have found it hard in the past to get a good vein in my child's hand and it could possibly save time before surgery. Which she agreed and thought it wouldn’t hurt. I then had to take my child down to my car so I could put some more money in the parking meter (as I could only pay for 2 hour parking). When I came back; the nurse had changed my phone number (and I checked that was correct) and I gave my child some pain relief that the nurse got while we were out.

At 1:45pm when we were ready to go down for the surgery, we took my child down in the bed and my child enjoyed the ride. I was greeted by a nurse. She went through all the details (name, DOB…) and introduced me to the anaethatist. We spoke about the best thing for my child and different options because I had concerns of a needle going into the spine. Then came a number of people and this one lady (who I think was the surgeon? ? ? ) simply told me that the blocker was way down the spine and there were no dangerous factors and it would be the best way to go. I felt that was the only option. She also said that she would carry my child in from the outside room. She said ‘come to Auntie’ whoever she was and for me to give him a kiss. They all went off and I was left with two medical students and the nurse who greeted me at the door. The students were there to ask me if they could sit in and watch, which I said that wouldn’t be a problem. They thanked me and left together. I asked the nurse if she was also going in and she said no she doesn’t get to watch. I asked her what happens next and how long and she said I would have enough time to go get a coffee and they would ring me when my child is out of theatre. I asked her to check my phone number as they got it wrong upstairs and they had to reprint stickers (I wanted to make sure they could get in touch with me). She repeated my number to me and I was happy everything was correct. She also helped me in finding my way around the hospital and where to find a cafeteria. She explained to me when I came back to go into the Surgical Admissions and if need be I could wait in there. She also told me if there was nobody in there to just walk through the other side to recovery and ask about my child in there. I was VERY happy with this nurse. She was MORE than helpful and even though I was upset and unhappy that I couldn’t be there for my child when my child was falling asleep with a huge amount of strangers that they didn’t know... I was happy to know what I had to do… and where I had to be… and I would be there for my child when they wake up!

I went to the toilet and I walked outside to clear my head. I wanted to stay close to the hospital so I could come back straight away for when my phone rang. I went up to Coles and got my child a drink and some food for when they came out of surgery as I didn’t know if they had food for my child there for when my child wakes up. I also popped back past my car and paid for another 2 hours of parking. I walked in the Surgical Admissions where there was one lady. I asked her about my child and she said to me that she doesn’t know where my child is and that they would ring me. She said that is what happens. I took a seat in the waiting room and I waited 1 hour. I then became worried because I was guessing that the operation would take around 1 hour and then waited an extra hour in the surgical admission room. I became really worried! ! ! So I went up to the same lady and I asked her to check my phone number on file (which was the right number) and I also asked if she could check where my child was. She pressed a couple of buttons and said she didn’t know. I explained how young my child was and I wanted to be there for them; especially for when my child wakes up. She told me that I couldn’t be there for when my child wakes up! That they wake my child up and then they allow me to go in and see my child ! ! !

I did not agree to this, but what could I do? So I sat back down. I waited another half an hour and I then got beside myself thinking that my child is dead because an operation that was meant to take enough time to get a coffee became into a 2 1/2hour time slot and I was still waiting to be called. I checked my phone for the hundredth time and then waited for the lady to walk into the back room and I walked into the recovery room where I walked straight up to the desk there. I asked about my child. They typed the name into the computer, rang one person and within 60 seconds she said my child was back in the ward.

I ran up to the ward (while on the phone to my husband at 4.22pm). I was so upset and I felt so horrible - felt so many things! Wondered why I wasn’t called? I was so concerned for my child! I went straight up there, pushed the button to get in the closed doors and found my child in the arms of some strange lady in the hallway that I have never seen before with the blanket I bought from home wrapped around my child. The nurse said she tried to call. She also said she tried to call my husband. This did not happen. My log list shows what calls I made and received when my child was in surgery.

At 4.26pm one of the ward ladies used my phone and rang the ward number to see if my phone was working and it rang! At 4.48pm I received a phone call from the nurse that was looking after my child to see if her phone was working or not and it was working perfectly. It was in full service the whole time my child was in surgery. I was in the hospital waiting room for most of the time and I was not contacted. My husband was not contacted. I even checked my business phone when I got home and it wasn’t even contacted.

The only thing the nurse told me is that I needed to bring my child back in 10-14 days.

I was not told how the surgery went or what happened. I did not speak to any doctors that were in the surgery room that could tell me anything about the procedure. All I heard was I was sorry that I was unable to get in contact with you. She blamed that her phone was not working. Yet my phone was and there are hundreds of other phones in the hospital to try with!

My child was not given any pain relief and I was not told of any pain relief that was given during the surgery. I was offered a bottle for my child who was happy to drink it. I was given a ‘Your feedback is important', 'We are listening' complaint form from the nurse and I think the doctor on duty in the ward.

They did my child’s OB’s again, which were fine. Since the lack of care and the kids I had at home without supervision because I was not given any kind of time frame to plan my day, I left an hour later. My child's health was fine - was drinking and alert. So we were discharged.

I know that Box Hill Hospital is a public hospital. It is not private. I don’t expect for my child to have their own room, own personal nurses and whatnot. I have been on a waiting list for about 8 months and I am not complaining about that. But Box Hill Hospital is where the patient's needs should be met. As a mother I am always there for them. I am my child's support person and I am the face they go to sleep seeing and am there to pick them up when they are sick through the night. The one that gets them up in the morning and the one that feeds them. Your patients should be number one in your care. To give my child the support that they need. To see their mum’s face when they are put to sleep for a painful operation. For their mother to be there when they wake up and they have no idea what is going on. Not to be in a strangers arms in a strange place with different smells. What you did to my child was horrible.

The pain and suffering you put me through was twice as bad. I suffer from depression and anxiety and the Box Hill Hospital has made me feel like my child was just a procedure and that my child's care doesn’t matter. You made me feel worthless.

The worst thing apart from the instruction to patients following this type of surgery, which only outlines the care of wounds and dressings, I have no idea how the operation went. I don’t know if it was a success or if there were difficulties. If my child needs another one or if everything is fine? I have no idea who did the surgery and who I could call to ask. This was not explained to me and I was not given the opportunity to talk to anyone about the surgery. I didn’t even see my child's wounds until we went home and I changed their nappy.

You may have a pretty new building. But you need to get some advice off Angliss Hospital or Monash Hospital in how to run your hospital. Because it is disgusting the way my child was treated. I have no idea who to ring or what I can do to help my child now and I don’t want to contact Box Hill Hospital again or in the future because of the lack of respect they have for people.

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Response from David Plunkett, Chief Executive, Eastern Health 6 years ago
David Plunkett
Chief Executive,
Eastern Health
Submitted on 29/09/2016 at 3:05 PM
Published on Care Opinion at 3:52 PM

picture of David Plunkett

Dear feelinghelpless

Thank you for taking the time to provide feedback about the care you and your child received at Box Hill Hospital. At the outset, please let me apologise for the experience you had. The way you felt and what happened is not acceptable at all.

You have raised many issues in your feedback and I understand Lisa in the Eastern Health Centre for Patient Experience has made contact with you and she is following up the issues raised. The plan is for the ward Nurse Unit Manager to make contact with you to sort through the immediate care needs of your child as well as your experience.

Again feelinghelpless, please accept my sincerest apologies and if you have any further concerns, please feel free to contact Lisa in the Centre for Patient Experience on 1800 327 837.

Kind regards


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