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"Lack of hygiene and I felt abused by a staff member."

About: Royal Perth Hospital

(as the patient),

I was taken into hospital one morning having been booked in with a confirmed bed to have a foreign body removed from my foot. When I arrived by ambulance, I was told that there was no place organised for me.

I was put into an open area in the Emergency Department and made to change into a small gown despite being told the surgery was not until the following day. It appeared, someone then realised that I was meant to be in the transit lounge, a public area. I was not allowed to get dressed before being taken there.

When I was taken to a ward, I was put in a small, mixed gender room (not sufficient room between beds to fit a chair) where there were 3 loud patients, supposedly because that is the bed I had been assigned and I should not complain. They put me in there still in only the small gown. No privacy, no dignity, nothing.

Eventually after a lot of complaining and panic attacks, I was moved to a single ward (gender compatible) . The nurse assigned to the room said the doctor was wrong and I could not go to the toilet across the room myself, but had to call her and be taken in a chair. She caught me going on my own and I feel she was abusive to me for it. She caught me going again and she seemed to force me into a chair which looked like it had pools of urine on the foot rest. She told me to stop complaining about her ignoring what the doctor said and put my feet (one with an open wound) into the urine. She took my asthma puffer from me and refused to let me have it, because it is a medication so she said it would be locked away and I would have to call and wait for it if I had an attack. Then she put restraints on my legs because she said that it was necessary if I would not stay in bed like she wanted. That caused problems with my arthritis and caused major swelling and cramping in the injured foot. She went off and I immediately had the next nurse remove them and give me pain relief. They seemed disgusted by the restraint and said there was nothing requiring it.

The next morning the same nurse came on. The overnight nurse had given me the puffer back and she immediately told me I could not have any medication out and locked it away. I was going into surgery and had been told I would need to be showered and in a gown within a few hours time-frame. She informed me that it was not happening because there were no gowns or pre-op wash at all on the ward. That morning I was told me my position on the list. The nurse was taking others to the shower and was about to put another person in before me. When I complained and said she had to get the stuff and allow me to be ready because there was only one person before me and I was told I had to be downstairs within half an hour. She appeared to grumble and carry on, but it took her a whole 2 minutes to get the gown and wash that she had insisted that was not on the ward. She again tried to force me to go across the room in the chair which was still not cleaned. When I got out she informed me that I had to take knickers off because they were not allowed. I refused and fought her the whole way as I knew I was right. She informed me I would be restrained again when I came back so I could not get off the bed. I asked who ordered it, and she said she had to control me.

When I got down to surgery the staff there asked why I was so upset and angry, so I gave it to them. They were horrified and said that if anyone came for surgery with no pants on they would be asking serious questions. I was told that something would have to be done.

I had seen the anaesthetic guy who told me that it would be done by putting a nerve block in my knee and injections around the ankle. Also I would have a drape so I could not see what was happening. When they had me on the table I was told they were putting me to sleep and that I had no choice. I woke up with severe asthma attacks requiring nebulisers. The same nurse came down to take me back to the ward and I went into another asthma attack and also panic attack. The staff immediately seemed to realise it was the same nurse and she was told in front of me that she had no right to take puffers away from asthmatics because within minutes an attack could turn deadly. She tried to tell them that she was going to lock it up again when we were back there and she was told in front of me it would be taken further.

Just after we got back to the ward, she was told to go into an office after again refusing to give me the puffer which another nurse gave me. It was only half way through her shift, but I did not see her again. They would not tell me if she was being sent back for training or sacked.

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Response from Liz MacLeod, Chief Executive, East Metropolitan Health Service 7 years ago
Liz MacLeod
Chief Executive,
East Metropolitan Health Service
Submitted on 14/12/2016 at 2:54 PM
Published on Care Opinion at 2:57 PM

picture of Liz MacLeod

Dear not a happy patient,

Thank you for reaching out and informing us of your experience at Royal Perth Hospital.

I am sincerely sorry that your experience was obviously so traumatic for you and whilst I cannot alter what you went through, would very much like to look at how we can prevent this from happening to you and other patients in the future.

In this instance, it appears that we could have communicated much better with you and discussed your journey at each stage from admission through to discharge.

We endeavour to place patients in single gender wards and wherever possible facilitate single rooms, but most of RPH’s wards are four bedded rooms and single rooms are prioritised for patients requiring isolation relating to infection control.

With regard to the gown you were provided, we have gowns in varying sizes and I will be speaking with staff to ensure that ward areas have appropriate stocks of varying gown sizes moving forward.

It was unacceptable that the wheelchair was not clean and dry before you used it, and I will be investigating this further with the appropriate area to ensure that all chairs are cleaned after each use.

It is policy that we lock away patient medications in the bedside cabinets to ensure that patients don’t exceed their prescribed medications when being giving additional medications during their hospital stay. Unfortunately, on this occasion it appears that there was a misunderstanding with regard to your inhaler and this should not have been taken from you to be locked away.

In relation to your anaesthetic experience, I can only once again apologise for this and will be discussing this with the department concerned to ensure this type experience does not happen again.

I understand that all this has been a distressing experience for you, and we would be grateful if you could contact us through the Royal Perth Hospital Consumer Engagement Unit via email or call (08) 9224 1637 so we can look into this further to improve the care we give.

Thank you once again for taking your time to tell us about what has happened to you.

Kind regards

Liz MacLeod

Chief Executive

East Metropolitan Health Service

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Update posted by not a happy patient (the patient)

Discussing it is no good. There needs to be things put in place so that as soon as other staff are made aware that very junior staff are incapable of doing the job they are not left unsupervised, and that they not be sent back to do exactly the same thing the next day. The person doing anaesthetic needs more than just talking to. They need training in not abusing patients and also not permitted to do this until they have learnt that no means no. Disciplinary action is needed in these cases

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