Not receiving a thorough examination nearly had severe consequences

(as a parent/guardian),

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About: Armadale Hospital / Emergency Department

I presented to the Armadale Emergency Department (ED) twice within a matter of 5 days as my very young child had been complaining of intense abdominal pain. They were barely able to walk, and when they did they were was hunched over in pain. They had fevers (some in the high 39s), vomiting bile, loss of appetite for a week and had a bulge in their lower abdomen. They had no signs of diarrhoea, they'd been passing normal amounts of urine and normal bowel motions - even though they said it hurt to push. 

Their first presentation, my child was given a urine test that ruled out a UTI and the doctor had a quick feel of their belly. Then we were told it sounds like viral gastro but come back if it gets worse. No further investigation was made. 

The second presentation a few days later, there were no tests done except a simple feel of my child's belly, despite them being in immense pain. I felt I was made to feel like a hypochondriac parent and the diagnosis was mesenteric lymphadenitis, and we'd basically just have to wait it out. This was made by an ED Consultant so I trusted the opinion and we were discharged with no further tests. No blood test, no X-ray, ultrasound - formal or bedside, CT, no referral to another hospital. Nothing. 

2 days later, my child was still in excruciating pain. They had now begun crawling around the house because it was too painful to walk and none of their symptoms had subsided. I decided to take my child to another hospital because I just wasn't comfortable with both diagnoses at Armadale. Read about this story here. 

At this hospital, an ultrasound and CT scan were completed. The CT scan showed a large abscess caused by a perforation in their appendix that had been leaking. Immediate IV antibiotics and emergency surgery the next day. This was lodged between their bladder and their bowel, and we were told if we had waited it out as suggested at Armadale, it could've burst in as little as 24 hours and the result could've been absolutely tragic.

I understand that staff are working hard and are constantly inundated with patients. I understand that not all services are available at the smaller hospitals after business hours and I understand that sometimes diagnosing can be tricky as symptoms of different illnesses that vary in severity, can be very similar.

I am also a firm believer in making innocent mistakes and I know Doctors are only human but this mistake could've very well cost my very young child their life and I cannot accept that the doctors at Armadale had done everything they could do. 

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Responses to this story

Response from Diane Barr, Executive Director, Armadale Kalamunda Group

picture of Diane Barr

Dear oriontt78,

Thank you so much for bringing this to my attention. The experience you describe is extremely concerning. I can only imagine how you felt as a parent.

I have spoken with the Director of the Emergency Department and we would both like to meet with you if possible. Our aim is always to provide quality care and be especially thorough with children. Meeting would allow us to further explore the care we provided and determine what actions are required for improvement.

If you would like to meet please contact our Consumer Liaison Officer on (08) 9391 1153 or AKG_ConsumerLiaison@health.wa.gov.au to facilitate a time suitable for you.

Please accept my sincere apology to your family for this experience.

Di Barr

Executive Director

Armadale Kalamunda Group

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