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"Gynaecology Appointment"

About: Allied Health (Primary Health - Albany) Public Health (Albany)

(as the patient),

I recently attended a consultation at the Albany Health Campus Gynaecology Clinic following receipt of an appointment letter. The appointment letter did not give any details regarding my appointment. In advance of my appointment, I called the Clinic reception to ask if my appointment would include any procedures, since the letter did not give any details as to what the appointment was to include. I was told no, it’s just a consultation.

At the appointment, I had a sit down consultation/discussion with the specialist and following this, they said they wanted to take a closer look at my cells. I assumed they must have cells available from the previous pap screen test. I was then lead to the procedure room and asked to go to the toilet and remove my underwear. I was then examined vaginally in stirrups. The specialist then took a biopsy, but not before what felt like an extensive amount of fairly robust prodding was undertaken. I was unprepared for this procedure to take place, since the correspondence I received did not indicate that this may occur.

During my procedure, I raised my concern to the specialist and to the assistant that I had been advised by reception staff that I would not be receiving any procedures at this appointment and that it was only a consultation. Both the specialist and the assistant responded firmly I felt, that I should expect a physical examination when I go to a hospital to see a specialist.

Following the procedure and biopsy, I felt traumatised and I decided to visit the hospital social worker, which I felt was helpful. They agreed that the way in which the communication had been carried out was insufficient in view of what took place at the appointment. When I arrived home, I was in pain with intense cramps around my pelvis area. I felt emotionally very raw, low and tearful. I took pain relief and spent the remainder of the day in bed, only recovering enough to rise by late in the evening. Immediately following this procedure, I was not advised by clinical staff that I might experience any emotional or physical difficulty. I was advised that I may experience some “spotting”.

On reflection, I have wondered whether the amount of prodding I received was absolutely necessary and whether this is what may have caused some of the physical pain and the emotional low I experienced, or if it was the actual biopsy that caused the side effects. That question remains and I would be interested to know from practitioners if it is normal practice to limit prodding of the cervix or if it is normal practice to prod without concern for after effects. I think the cervix may be a very emotional organ!

I have since written to the hospital twice, to express my concerns and to ask if the appointment letter that is sent to patients could be modified to better reflect what patients might expect to experience in an appointment. To date I have received two letters from the hospital in response, both offer apologies, but neither offer any real indication of any changes that may be possible in the immediate future. 

On that basis, today the system remains the same and I believe patients are being treated in the same manner, despite the fact that the alarm has been raised. Change, they say, may be on the horizon after more consultation with the public and with their various departments state-wide.

I called the hospital recently to say that I didn’t think the written responses I had received were adequate and that I was very concerned about others who may have a similar experience to me without improvement to appointment letters. I also pointed out that I had coped fairly well with the experience, being a confident person, but I feel that a less confident person, a person who had experienced rape, or a person from a different cultural background or from a less empowered culture, could feel the full impact of such treatment in the clinic in my opinion, without having received any prior warning in the appointment letter. I was advised, after a lengthy conversation, that my concerns were being taken seriously and that my issue would be escalated to the next level. I await further advice.

Responses

Response from Dr Barbara King, Director of Medical Services, Albany Health Campus last week
Dr Barbara King
Director of Medical Services,
Albany Health Campus
Submitted on 18/02/2021 at 13:21
Published on Care Opinion at 13:22


Dear albanypatient,

I am very sorry to hear what happened when you attended the Albany Health Campus Gynaecology Clinic and for the distress you have experienced.

Clinical consultations can include physical examinations or procedures and I sincerely apologise that our staff miscommunicated with you about what to expect, especially when you had contacted the hospital beforehand seeking clarity about this. It is essential that we ensure that our patients understand the purpose and nature of any examination or procedure that they might need, and it is equally essential that our patients understand their options in declining or delaying an examination or procedure if they wish.

In this regard, I would like you to know that we have undertaken immediate staff education with the clinic staff to ensure that what happened to you does not happen again. We have also amended the clinic appointment letters and these now include advice to patients that an examination or procedure may form part of their appointment. In addition, an information flyer is being developed that will provide information to patients on what to expect when they are attending a clinic appointment; the flyer will be sent out with every appointment letter. If you would be willing, we would appreciate your input into the content and design of the flyer.

Some of the concerns you have raised about your clinic appointment have not previously been brought to our attention and I would value learning more about what happened during your appointment. I would like to listen to your experience first-hand to understand better what the clinic experience was like for you and provide you with the opportunity to ask questions or raise any further concerns you may have about your experience, along with your potential involvement in helping us to create a patient information resource.

If you would like to contact me at a time that is convenient for you, my name is Barbara King and I am the Director of Medical Service at Albany Health Campus. Please call me on 9892 2620 or reach out by email at Barbara.King@health.wa.gov.au. Please also know that if you choose to meet with me, you are most welcome to bring along a support person.

Thank you for taking the time to share your story on Care Opinion and I do hope to hear from you soon.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Barbara King

Director of Medical Services

Albany Health Campus

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