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"Feeling unheard"

About: Margaret River Hospital / Emergency Department

(as a service user),

I attended the Emergency department multiple times in 24 hours recently with increasing discomfort and exacerbating symptoms over that time. I suspected tonsillitis and knew from the past it could get bad very quickly. By the third visit I was struggling to breathe, was vomiting, had a fever, had excruciating pain despite being on pain relief medication. On this third visit I was really surprised when the doctor was rung that they just suggested to go home, take something orally for the nausea and continue with oral antibiotics.

I believe it was obvious that the nurses as well were not happy with this advice as they could see the state I was in. I knew I needed IV antibiotics as the oral had not been effective, as well as assistance to help breathing, and to somehow get on top of the pain/nausea. Being a mum to breastfed infant baby certainly make things super tricky too, my partner, my older child and baby having to wait in the hospital car park on many separate occasions for me to get some appropriate care.

Thankfully the doctor that came on duty that morning took the time to see me and assess me, which I think the on call doctor should have done previously. I was admitted and I believe managed appropriately from then. Prior to that I felt really unheard and found it to be quite a frightening experience being told to return home again in that state of not being able to breathe properly, manage pain, unable to swallow my own saliva, vomiting, febrile and overall unable to care for myself let alone young children.

To add, this is the third time this has happened to me. A few years ago when my first child was a toddler and I was a single mum, I presented to the ED there on several occasions over the space of a week as I had never felt so unwell. I kept being sent home with no answers or real help. It was an extremely difficult time, I rang helplines to see what their advice was. Eventually after a trip to the GP where I had to be driven home I was so unwell, my bloods were done and my CRP was so high that the GP called after hours to tell me to get to hospital.

I had pneumonia and was admitted and treated for that for a few days. It took me 3 months to feel myself again. The other experience was more recent when I was in my first trimester of pregnancy. I had an increasing pain in my foot to the point where after a few days I was unable to weight bear on it, I attended the ED dept and described the pain and was sent home with some pain medication but I believe no one looked into it further. That night I spent on the couch writhing in pain despite the pain meds, I did not sleep a wink, and was in tears and distraught. My partner took me to the ED dept again and long story short I think it was another 2 trips to ED to be diagnosed with cellulitis requiring IV antibiotics...not fun when in early pregnancy, or anytime.

I guess I just feel that on each occasion I wasn’t heard by the medical staff and any sufficient investigation or diagnostic tests were not carried out with their main focus being, send her home, tell her to see a GP, if it’s not entirely obvious what’s wrong then nothing is wrong.

It has certainly made the thought of attending an ED for myself or children fraught with anxiety as based on my experience, I’m never sure if will be heard or treated effectively medically. Normally I am a very fit and healthy person with very good vitals (low BP/HR/Resps etc), I’m a bit unsure if the medical staff see my ‘only slightly above normal looking vital signs’ as indication that I’m fine, despite me explaining that for me these vital signs are well above my normal and indicate I am quite unwell and in extreme pain. Anyway, I only hope that if and when I need to attend this ED dept in the future I will be listened to and seen appropriately by after hours medical staff and treated effectively, and not having to re-present over and over to be given appropriate medical intervention.  


Response from Jodie Omodei, Operations Manager, Coastal, WACHS South West last month
Jodie Omodei
Operations Manager, Coastal,
WACHS South West
Submitted on 12/04/2021 at 14:28
Published on Care Opinion at 14:29

Dear aprilrz44,

Thank you for your feedback in regards to your visits to the Margaret River Hospital Emergency Department (ED). I was very sorry to read about your experiences. We know that our patients are the experts in their own health, and I was very disappointed that you felt unheard and let down by the health service during these visits. This is not how we would like any of our patients to feel, and I appreciate you raising the issues with me so that I can address them.

It was concerning that you felt that the nurses were unhappy with the advice provided to you by the doctor. We do have an escalation process which allows staff to raise concerns such as this with the ED Clinical Nurse Manager, or After Hours Nurse Manager. I will ensure that I reiterate and communicate this process to all ED staff, so that they feel empowered to raise concerns if they arise.

It is important to me that community members feel comfortable to attend our hospitals to seek the care that they require so I would like to let you know that we have a similar process in place for our patients, concerned family members or carers to escalate their concerns if they feel the right care is not being received in a timely manner. This process is called CARE call and is available 24hrs per day on 1800 744 059. I hope that this information is helpful and reassures you to have the confidence to attend the Margaret River Hospital emergency department if required.

To enable us to investigate your concerns further and to prevent similar experiences from occurring again, I would appreciate it if you could please get in contact with Marie Tweedie, District Manager on 97570400. This will allow us to gain more specific information about your concerns so that we can address these directly with the team involved and we can make some necessary changes.

I am pleased to hear that you received appropriate care once admitted and I hope that you are now recovering well. We look forward to hopefully talking to you soon.

Kind Regards

Jodie Omodei

A/Operations Manager Coastal

WACHS-South West

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

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