Treatment of a mental health patient

(as other),

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About: Hedland Health Campus / Emergency Department

I recently transported an Indigenous patient with mental health issues to the Emergency Department (ED) at the Hedland Health Campus. Spent around 3 hours to be seen by a doctor who was more interested in discharging the patient instead of finding out what was happening in their mind. 

I requested the patient be assessed by the mental health unit. The doctor said we needed to book an appointment with them. This was an emergency as the patient was not mentally sound and desperately seeking for help. The doctor said they themselves were from another country and did not know how the health system in Australia works. Perhaps training should be provided to ED staff so that they understand that admitting you have a mental health issue is not easy and requires attention. 

Last week this patient called and, because of their mental health status, was taken to the hospital by ambulance where they were provided some pills to help them. I felt the doctor spent more time doing other things rather than checking what was happening to this patient. 

At the end, the doctor prescribed some pills the patient requested but I believe no information was given about dosage. 

The whole experience was very upsetting. I'm also a health professional and consider that the way this patient and their health condition was treated was not very professional. 

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Responses to this story

Response from Brian Wilson, Operations Manager, East Pilbara, WA Country Health Service (WACHS) Pilbara

picture of Brian Wilson

Dear Hopeless user,

Thank you for sharing with us your recent experience at the Hedland Health Campus (HHC).

I would firstly like to sincerely apologise for the experience that you had when you brought a person into the Emergency Department (ED) at HHC and for what you have intimated may be potentially inadequate follow-up care. For someone who was and may still be experiencing a period of mental ill-health, I am very sorry that we may have caused additional stress at a time when this person would have been already feeling highly anxious and vulnerable.

In reading your story, I am sorry to hear that the person had a lengthy wait in ED before they were able to see a doctor. One of the reasons for the lengthy wait may have been because of a high volume of people who required urgent care and treatment in the ED at this time. The process for patients being seen in ED is managed according to what is known as The Australasian Triage Scale (ATS). This means that when a person presents to the ED they are assigned a score, which indicates when they should be seen by the Doctor. Our staff are very skilled in managing and coordinating the care of people in the ED. However, if the ED is particularly busy with a high volume of people requiring care, then there can sometimes be significant delays in being seen.

I am concerned about the communication from the treating Doctor that you have highlighted and for the impression that this has left on you. I would like to assure you that all of our medical staff are provided with an orientation package when they commence working for us, which includes comprehensive resources and referral information so that all of our staff can make fully informed decisions about the care of their patients.

I would like to learn more about the interactions you have reported with the treating Doctor and to personally follow up whether a referral or other follow up has occurred for this person. With this in mind, I would be very grateful if you could contact me either via email at WACHS-Pilbara.Feedback@health.wa.gov.au or by telephone on 9174 1040 so that I can learn more about your experience. If you would like to do this, I may be able to provide a further update on the ED processes at the hospital (while maintaining your confidentiality).

As a result of your story, I will be taking the opportunity to remind all staff of the importance of providing care that is compassionate and respectful to our patients and their families and carers in each and every interaction that we have.

In closing, I would again like to thank you for taking the time to share your story with us. Your feedback is invaluable to us and genuinely helps us to improve the care we provide to all of our patients and their families and carers.

Regards

Brian Wilson

Operations Manager East Pilbara

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

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