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"Shocking treatment while trying to get an MRI"

About: Maroondah Hospital / Medical Imaging

(as the patient),

Appalled is too small a word.

I have recently needed to go for a MRI to check for breast cancer. This must be done in between Day 6 and Day 14 of my menstrual cycle to get the correct results. Obviously if it turns out I do have breast cancer, then time is a very important factor to ensure treatment can begin as soon as possible as every day wasted makes it worse. As such, I called through to the Maroondah Hospital X-Ray and Imaging Department to book my appointment.

During the first call they advised that before they can book the appointment, they need a copy of my referral. I asked how I could provide this to them, and they suggested that I take a clear photo of it and email it through to them. I took the photo and went to email it, and as they cannot accept files larger than 2MB, I resized the photo and sent it.

I called back a second time to confirm that they had received it, which they had. I then asked to book the appointment, to which they responded that they can’t book the appointment until the doctor has looked over the referral. So we ended the call and I waited.

Finally they called on a Friday afternoon around 4: 30pm, and advised me that they had printed the referral and that they could not read it and I would need to send it through again. I asked whether they were open on the weekend, to which they advised they were not. As it takes 30 minutes to get there, I went straight to the hospital to provide the referral. When I got there, they suggested that while the doctor looked over the referral that they could ask me some questions to get ready for an appointment.

Many of these were standard, and they eventually asked if I had any metal in my body. I advised that I did – clips on my fallopian tubes. The receptionist then asked what’s that? I was shocked that they did not know what they were, especially considering they were also women. I explained that they were clips on my fallopian tubes – the pathway between my ovaries and my uterus. She then asked, why would you need that? This is some of the worst service I have ever received. I then told her that it was okay, as the clips are non-ferrous and that I had had MRI’s with them in before. At this point she did not understand what that meant, and again I explained that they were not magnetic and therefore not a problem.

After this she again stated that they still can’t make an appointment now, and that you do know that there are other people with medical conditions too, right? Of course I know that! I would have thought however that the real potential of cancer would classify as an important thing to deal with quickly. I insisted, and finally she advised that she would go and talk to the doctor and find out if we could book the appointment.

She left and while I was waiting, the other receptionist was at the desk. The phone was ringing off the hook, but she did not answer it. It was 4: 55pm, and they said to another staff member, I’m not answering it so close to closing time, it’s probably just that doctor trying to make an appointment for their patient again. Really? That is exactly what the doctor should be doing and you don’t want to answer the phone?

The other receptionist returned and advised that we could book the appointment now, and that she needed to ask some more questions. Again, very standard, about blood pressure and smoking, etc. Then she asked, are you Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander? Yes, I said. Oh, then you need to have a blood test. Why? She then stated that anything on the form was considered a medical condition and that I had to have a blood test. I asked what the reasoning for this was and she did not know. It felt to me like racial discrimination. If there is a legitimate reason because it increases the chances of something, I completely understand that, now was I objecting to the blood test, but I think it is very reasonable that I should be told why. What does my great grandfather’s ethnicity have to do with this, now? All I wanted was the reason.

Finally she made an appointment for early July. I asked why it was so far away. Given that it has to fall within Day 6 and Day 14 of my menstrual cycle, I thought that this would be taken into consideration. I asked what would happen if the appointment did not fall within the required time frame. It then felt as if she spoke like she thought I was hard of hearing. She responded that I would just have to rebook, likely for September or October. Seriously?!

I’ve gone back to my doctor and thankfully they have organised an appointment within the next 12 days. I will be cancelling my appointment with Maroondah.

This experience was absolutely appalling, and your staff really need retraining in this area.

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Response from Jo Gatehouse, Director, Quality, Planning and Innovation (Acute Health and Consumer Participation and Patient Experience), Eastern Health 6 years ago
Jo Gatehouse
Director, Quality, Planning and Innovation (Acute Health and Consumer Participation and Patient Experience),
Eastern Health
Submitted on 5/06/2017 at 10:56 AM
Published on Care Opinion at 11:15 AM

picture of Jo Gatehouse

Dear urgent appointment,

I was dismayed to read your story about your experience at Maroondah Hospital and so very sorry to hear about the way you were treated. The experience you describe is not in line with any of the values that we hold at Eastern Health and is not acceptable.

I understand that you have been in contact with our Centre for Patient Experience and lodged a formal complaint. Thank you. This will enable us to follow up immediately with an investigation into your experience and enable us to address your concerns both with the individuals involved, but at a system wide level as required.

Once again, I would like to apologise for your experience and reassure you that we take your concerns very seriously and will be in contact with you regarding the outcome of our investigation.

Thank you for taking the time to share your story.

Kind Regards,

Jo Gatehouse

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