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"Mistreatment and lack of care"

About: Denmark Health Service / Emergency Department

(as a parent/guardian),

We presented to Denmark hospital late one evening recently to double-check with a nurse to see if our infant had a temperature. The chemists were closed due to a public holiday. I was paranoid due to pandemic and my baby was coughing and felt hot.

I called the nurse bell and told them our predicament, they passed me the ear temperature. I asked if this was too big for my baby's ear and the nurse, I believe, rudely told me that’s how they would check it. They said that was the only thermometer. I have never had experience putting the ear temperature gauge in an infants ear, only seen the thermometer that is put under the armpit.  I didn’t want to fit it in my baby's ear due to the size of the thermometer but the nurse said that’s how they check. I put the temp machine at the entrance of my baby's ear hole and it read 35... that’s low, I said could that be because it wasn’t in the hole? I believe they said, what do you mean not in the hole?

I asked if I could try again. So I did. It was 36. I asked the nurse if this was in range and I felt they just looked at me baffled. I told them I’m not a nurse and haven’t had to check these things. Me being a first-time parent, and my baby has never had symptoms of a high temp. I was hoping the nurse would tell me the therapeutic range for an infant so I didn’t have to Google it.

The nurse didn’t check over my baby, I left feeling scared that my baby hadn’t been cared for. Me and my partner left to take our baby to the next town's hospital. 

They did however call us to apologise about the situation and to come back, but by that point, we were out of Denmark by a few hours. 

I worry for the care for other infants and children at this hospital. Hope that there won’t be any poor outcomes due to, in my opinion, negligence or malpractice. 


Response from Jessica Hockey, Acting/Clinical Nurse Manager, Denmark Hospital & Health Service, WACHS GS 6 days ago
We have made a change
Jessica Hockey
Acting/Clinical Nurse Manager, Denmark Hospital & Health Service,
Submitted on 03/05/2021 at 12:03
Published on Care Opinion on 04/05/2021 at 09:07

Dear perseusrf87,

Thank you very much for taking the time to share your infant’s story on Care Opinion. We are very sorry that the care you received did not meet your expectations. We would like to assure you that we take the care of all our patients very seriously and always strive to deliver the best possible care.

Any patient who presents to a WA Country Health Service Emergency Department and does not wait to be seen is automatically followed up as per our agreed guidelines. This means we also keep a record of patients who did not wait to be seen. As you have experienced, our response is to contact the patient or their family or carers to determine the reason for not waiting, to ensure that there is not an immediate requirement for care, and to offer support.

Thus we believe we may have identified the episode of care you refer to. If your story does refer to this particular presentation in the ED, it appears there has been some misunderstanding and miscommunication as your infant had not been triaged prior to your departure and we did not communicate that to you clearly.

We have learned from your story and have already had a conversation with our team about ensuring that our patients and their families understand each step of the care that we are delivering. We are very grateful that you shared it with us so that we could identify this opportunity for improvement.

With best wishes,

Jess Hockey

Clinical Nurse Manager

Denmark Hospital and Health Service

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