"Frustrating experience at the ED"

About: Bunbury Hospital / Emergency Department

(as the patient),

I’ve presented to Bunbury ED on three occasions over the past few weeks with ongoing headaches. On the first occasion, I had a doctor tell me I couldn’t be in bad pain because in the early hours of the morning I drove myself to ED despite living by myself and recognising it wasn’t life-threatening to require an ambulance.

I was pretty much told that it was an existing condition with my sinuses being that particular issue, despite explaining no symptoms being alike and having suffered with chronic sinusitis, I knew it wasn’t that.

On the next presentation, being less than 24 hours later, I was treated by Dr C who is very kind, thorough and caring and even seen by the ED Consultant who both showed concern and were understanding.

I had a CT and bloods but unfortunately still came to the same conclusion of it being my sinuses. However, I discussed with my ENT Consultant who advised it was not related to my sinuses and advised being seen by Neurology or presenting if it worsened. Obviously, during all this time, I had also seen my GP and on advice was ordered an MRI (which has a two-week wait).

A few days later, my headache got worse and new symptoms appeared. The doctor reluctantly, I believe, took bloods and said it was my sinuses playing up still or an atypical migraine. I would never have thought that after 3 presentations to ED I would have been, in my opinion, so fobbed off and misunderstood - it was not what my expectation of an ED is and especially of doctors to be so presumptuous.

If there was any compassion, I believe they’d be more understanding of a headache that has not alleviated in three whole weeks and that I wouldn’t present again and again to just be fobbed off. I believe I can tell when they weren’t listening which reflects on the information they describe in their discharge summaries being different to what I am actually experiencing. I feel really let down by the service and disappointed that I still sit here in pain today, awaiting an MRI without Bunbury even consulting Bunbury or Perth ENT (if my sinuses were the recurrent problem) or even discussing my case with Neurology with Perth considering I’ve presented three times with the same issue and not getting any better. 

On a positive note, the nurse who looked after me in SSU a few nights ago was amazing and did her job fantastically (especially when you could listen to other patients and her interactions with them). The doctors that I met on that same night were also very lovely- to the Reg who put in my cannula, to the ED Consultant and to of course Dr C who took the time to examine and listen to me. 


Response from Adam Coulson, Director of Emergency Medicine, Bunbury Hospital, WACHS South West 2 months ago
Adam Coulson
Director of Emergency Medicine, Bunbury Hospital,
WACHS South West
Submitted on 21/05/2020 at 18:32
Published on Care Opinion on 22/05/2020 at 08:59

Dear Fed up and still in pain

Thank you for taking the time to give feedback on the experience you received in the Bunbury Hospital Emergency Department recently. I acknowledge and apologise that the service has not met your expectations. With ongoing problems like your headache, it can at times be difficult to pinpoint an exact diagnosis (cause of the pain) and unfortunately, can sometimes take multiple visits to a healthcare practitioner before the cause is found and appropriate treatment given.

I acknowledge that you are in continued pain and that you did not feel appropriate compassion was shown. I apologise for this. I would advise that you make contact with a GP that you trust and have a good working relationship with. It will be important to maintain this continuity of care so that the “pieces of the puzzle” can be put in place to ensure your appropriate care.

Due to medicare licencing requirements, the number of MRI scanners for public use in the country is limited. The South West is lucky to have one such machine provided by one of our private partners. I hope this explains the reason behind the wait for your scan.

It will be important for you to follow up on the results of your scan with your GP (as mentioned above). In the meantime, if you develop new concerning symptoms or are unable to manage your pain at home, please feel free to return to the hospital or seek an urgent appointment from your GP.

I hope you get some relief from your symptoms soon and also thank you for acknowledging the good work of the staff during the night you stayed in the SSU.


Dr. Adam Coulson

Director of Emergency Medicine

Bunbury Hospital

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