"Communication with next of kin during a phone call."

About: Ipswich Hospital / Emergency Department

(as a relative),

When I called Ipswich Hospital to find someone to talk to about my mother (I am listed as next of kin) who was admitted to emergency, I was put through to an administration officer (I am mostly aware of processes because I am a registered nurse who works for another Q Health facility).

I felt this administration office in the emergency department was very rude. She said to me, aren’t you going to come in? This language and tone seemed very judgmental and unhelpful, and I can’t begin to describe my disgust and shock when she said this to me. It took me a moment to register what she said. I said politely that I wanted to talk to someone looking after my mother, a nurse or doctor. She finally said, they don’t take phone calls in that area. This led me to believe that my mother could have been in the resuscitation area and very unwell. What ward doesn’t take phone calls? These things are not what a concerned family member needs to hear.

I was put through to a nurse in the area she was in – the medical decision unit I believe. This nurse told me that she would get the doctor or another nurse to call me back regarding my mother. No one called me back at all.

As a nurse I can't begin to explain how angry this conversation with the administration officer was. In my opinion, there is no room for judgmental language when my only request was to talk to someone regarding my mother. There are multiple sources of evidence that states that judgmental tones are detrimental to building good therapeutic relationships with patients and their family members. 

I hope this story and my complaint with the consumer liaison officer is heard so they can improve their behaviour and outcomes for patients.


Response from Melissa Fellows, a/Senior Consumer Liaison Officer, Clinical governance, West Moreton 2 years ago
Melissa Fellows
a/Senior Consumer Liaison Officer, Clinical governance,
West Moreton
Submitted on 11/04/2018 at 09:37
Published on Care Opinion at 11:03

Dear Communication with next of kin,

Thank you for taking the time to share your story with us.

The health and welfare of our loved ones is so important and we’re sorry that during this worrying time with your mother, your experience with the hospital was not as you expected. Here at the Ipswich Hospital, our patient’s privacy and confidentiality are paramount. Ipswich Hospital has a routine procedure regarding release of information over the phone, but we’re concerned that this was not communicated appropriately to you on this occasion.

We would really appreciate the opportunity to further discuss these concerns with you. We invite you to contact our Consumer Liaison Office on 0409 275 503 or email WMH_CLO@health.qld.gov.au.

Kind Regards

Consumer Liaison Office

West Moreton Hospital and Health Service

  • {{helpful}} {{helpful == 1 ? "person thinks" : "people think"}} this response is helpful

Update posted by Communication with next of kin (a relative)

I have already been in contact with the CLO too and haven't heard back as yet. I work in a hospital as a nurse and know the legalities behind release of information. That part is not my concern at all. My concern is regarding the rudeness of the admin staff member I spoke to when I was simply inquiring to speak to someone. There are a multitude of different answers that staff member could have said. Issues like this are ingrained in the health care system and need to be addressed from executive right down to front line staff. Respectfully, I won't be holding my breath for a response nor a change in behaviours of staff any time soon.