"Medical complaint - whilst pregnant"

About: Pilbara Health

(as the patient),

To whom it may concern, 

I wish to make some complaints about the care I received from Doctors at my local Medical Centre last year. 

Mid-2019 I received a positive pregnancy test and was later diagnosed with Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG). HG is something I had endured in my previous two pregnancies also, therefore, assumed I would be more prepared to handle the pregnancy. 

Complaint 1: Unfortunately, it was not long before I was admitted to my local hospital by the nurse for fluids as I was suffering dehydration. When I was greeted by the doctor, I advised that I really wasn't coping well and this was the worst I had experienced with HG, to which they responded suggesting my only other option was to terminate the pregnancy or just deal with the pregnancy as other women had. 

Complaint 2: Some months passed and towards the end of the year, heavily pregnant, I presented to the Medical Centre with a concern for haemorrhoid that had been irritating and not going away. Within a moment, the doctor asked me to hop on the bed (with a nurse present) and proceed to inject the haemorrhoid with a local anaesthetic. The Dr then began cutting into the haemorrhoid, advising they needed to remove multiple blood clots. After the process was finished I was advised that I should be fine now with no further problems and I headed home. 

Within a few hours, the pain in that area became incredibly painful to which no cream or baths or panadol could offer relief. My spouse came home to find me shaking in pain and I was instructed to return to the hospital where I presented to ED. I was not seen by that doctor for some time and so remained in pain, pacing back and forth and on all fours to try and offer some relief. 

Over the coming hours, I was given two rectal examinations, another local and more lacerations, to which there was no relief. 

Later that night, the dr arrived back in the hospital room and advised they did not know what to do but after speaking to a colleague they would attempt to try and push the haemorrhoid back in. I was rolled over and as this doctor began this procedure, I began screaming in excruciating pain and begging them to stop. This doctor continued to ignore my requests to stop, I believe until the nurse pushed their hand away and also advised them to stop. This doctor advised they had to do the procedure, where the nurse requested I was at least offered some gas. 

With the gas in hand, the procedure began again with the gas being of no assistance. Due to the pain and screaming, I was unable to breathe properly and continued to beg the Dr to stop what they were doing. 

After approximately 15 minutes and hyperventilating on the gas, the Dr stopped, advising the procedure did not work and they would have to think further. I did not understand what was happening. 

Within moments, I began vomiting uncontrollably and was admitted to the hospital overnight. I also requested that the baby be checked for distress given the trauma I had just experienced, whereby the only option available was the doppler to check the heartbeat. The potential distress of the baby seemed not to have been considered. 

The next morning, that area was very tense, sore and sensitive and I was also extremely nervous that the procedure would happen again. As I was unable to wee, the nurse was instructed to give me a catheter, to which this was put in, I believe incorrectly. After 2 hours of expressing the pain this also caused, they finally took it out again where I was able to wee. 

The doctor came in to advise there was nothing further they could do and would require me to go to Perth for further assistance. Unfortunately, I was not covered by PATS and would not have been a priority for the emergency aeromedical patient transfer service. 

In excruciating pain, I put myself on a flight that afternoon and was admitted to a different hospital. This is the hospital my Obstetrician worked out of and would be having the baby in. Once there, I was still petrified of being touched but was advised that no doctor should ever put a patient, and especially a pregnant one, through pain like that. The haemorrhoid did not need any treatment, however, I believe due to the trauma, I was admitted for uncontrollable vomiting for the next 5 days. 

Due to this incident, I was forced to leave my spouse and children at a moment's notice and needed to remain in Perth. I then went into early labour within the coming weeks with an irritated uterus and abruption. Thankfully our baby was delivered safely and I am also ok. 

What I also found intriguing is that in the referral letter written by the doctor to my obstetrician, there was no mention made of the traumatic incident that had occurred the night previously. 

Final note: In my opinion, not only should these doctors be held responsible, the Medical Practice that hires these doctors should also be held accountable. I believe that time and time again, there are serious incidents occurring at this hospital with Doctors that I feel seem ill-qualified to do their role, not to mention the lack of equipment and services available at the hospital. 


Response from Helen Fullarton, A/Operations Manager, Inland Pilbara, WA Country Health Service (WACHS) Pilbara last week
Helen Fullarton
A/Operations Manager, Inland Pilbara,
WA Country Health Service (WACHS) Pilbara
Submitted on 27/07/2020 at 13:08
Published on Care Opinion at 13:10

Dear HGpregnancy2019,

I am so sorry to read about your experiences at a Pilbara Hospital last year. I can only imagine the effect this experience has had on you. I sincerely apologise for the pain and distress this has caused you and your family.

The comments you outline made by medical staff when you presented to the hospital early in your pregnancy with Hyperemesis Gravidarum and the subsequent experience including physical and emotional pain that you describe, has alarmed the health service.

There are many elements that concern me in relation to what you went through, not the least of which is being ignored when you requested the doctor to stop the procedure.

The vast majority of our staff from all of the different areas of our organisation work very hard to care for our patients and their families with professionalism, respect and compassion. What you describe is not the standard this health service aspires to. Our standard is safe, person-centred care 24/7 for every person presenting to the hospital. That includes every consumer feeling safe to speak up when they have questions or concerns about their care.

While I hope you have been able to experience the joys of becoming parents again, I am very aware that you and your partner have been through a very difficult time in the lead up to the birth of your baby.

I would like to thank you for talking to me since you posted your story. I would also like to assure you that a thorough investigation will take place regarding what has happened to you and that I will provide you with an update on the investigation when it has taken place. If in the meantime you wish to talk to me, please do not hesitate to call me on (08) 9175 8370.

Please, again, accept my apologies for the distress you and your family have experienced.

Kind regards,

Helen Fullarton

A/Operations Manager, Inland Pilbara

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