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"Pathology collection on a toddler"

About: PathWest Northam Collection Centre

(as a parent/guardian),

I took my toddler and my two other young children to get my toddler's blood taken at Northam Hospital Path West. Not one of the three phlebotomists I dealt with introduced themselves to me. The phlebotomist that confirmed my child's identity said (and I quote) what’s its last name and first name? Referring to my child who was sitting on my lap as an 'it'. They then left without another word. 

Then another phlebotomist came in. I asked for a towel/sheet to wrap my baby in as I know from being an experienced senior clinician that this makes it easier to get a successful bleed. I felt they got a bit annoyed that they had to look for one. When they returned I wrapped my baby up with their arm sticking out and I was holding their arm out straight ready for collection, the phlebotomist came over to me, did not introduce themselves/tell me what they were doing and said to me (again I quote) take your hands off their arm. 

Given that they hadn’t explained a thing, and they were standing so close to myself and my baby that I believe I could’ve kissed them on their face without moving, I found this extremely unacceptable. What if I had been a person who didn’t know what was going on or what they were going to do? I would’ve been terrified. I asked them their name and they told me.

They also said to my other 2 small children who were standing silently near me just watching being, in my opinion, extremely well behaved, you two stand over there in that corner. My children did exactly as they were told and when I turned to look at them I believe they thought they had to face the wall and that they felt like they had done something wrong. I had told them they could watch if they wanted to, to normalise blood taking and help decrease their anxiety in case they ever needed to get it done, however, I believe this person completely screwed that up for us by their, in my opinion, awful way of communicating. 

I do not appreciate my toddler or anyone being referred to as ‘it’ and I think the phlebotomist's demeanour was appalling.

The other issue was, as I understand it, they were urgent bloods, written on the form by the dr, urgent please. Northam is a small Path West therefore the processing of bloods is directly in the next room to the collection room - I told the phleb’s they were urgent twice. These bloods were taken in the early afternoon within a 15 minute timeframe. 

I did not receive a result until late in the afternoon (rang my dr in the afternoon and they still did not have a result). The result I was given at that time was still preliminary. The tests were a full blood count, a crp, and a random bsl. How in gods name does it take that many hours to only get a prelim result for urgent bloods? In my opinion, that is appalling. What if my toddler was bleeding/septic etc? 

I feel sure this will all be explained away by we had computer issues/we were short-staffed etc, I’m no stranger to root cause analysis, however, I feel this is not an isolated incident. My partner and I employ someone in our business who has kids as well, with a myriad of health issues. As I understand it, they now drive straight past Northam and drive all the way to Midland to get their kids' blood taken as, I understand they have had way too many bad experiences there. In my opinion, this is appalling. Given that it’s the only option in town for paediatric blood collection unless the drs do it (and in future that is exactly what I will be getting done), I think it’s really not acceptable.

I believe the way kids experience health care from a young age can greatly impact their willingness to engage in their own health care and the health care system as they grow up, directly impacting their health outcomes, mortality and morbidity, and the burden to the system. In my opinion, something so small as to refer to my kids as their gender and not ‘it’, and also to explain, introduce, speak to my child and myself directly and kindly and attempt to make it less scary/more pleasant, can really change a child’s experience of the system and affect how they react to future health care interventions. I’m really disappointed in this Path West. 


Response from Gina Hine, A/Operations Manager, PathWest Regional Network 2 weeks ago
Gina Hine
A/Operations Manager,
PathWest Regional Network
Submitted on 20/04/2021 at 11:23
Published on Care Opinion at 11:24

Dear 3under3,

I am very concerned to hear of your experience. PathWest’s goal is for all patients to have a positive, professional experience especially our paediatric patients.

The situation you have described must have been upsetting for you and your children and I am deeply concerned that you and others feel they cannot rely on PathWest staff to provide paediatric phlebotomy service. I need to fully investigate this matter to ensure all patients, paediatric or adult, can feel confident in attending PathWest Northam knowing they will receive friendly and professional service.

Could you please contact me with specific details so that I can complete a thorough investigation and instigate corrective actions that are required.

Thank you,

Gina Hine

Operations Manager Regional Services

(08) 6457 7230

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