After some investigations in Perth at Fiona Stanley Hospital, I was found to have lymphoma and my case was referred to Bunbury Hospital, closer to home, for treatment by a haematologist. Unfortunately, I feel the communication since this referral has been simply terrible.For one thing, I didn’t even know about the referral until six days after it was made, when a doctor from FSH phoned me for a follow-up. They had assumed Bunbury would contact me. I believe the doctor was surprised they hadn’t and said they were sure to contact me within the week.
I didn’t want to wait a week, so I tried ringing them myself, but I felt they made that difficult. Each time I tried, I asked for Haematology and was put through, it rang for a while and then I got a message service. I left a voice message but never heard back. One time the operator told me there wasn’t a Haematology department as such, just a clinic that was open when a haematologist was present. That fits with the message service, which always said “outpatient department”.Fast forward a week. I tried ringing both hospitals for information and now someone at FSH told me that I had an appointment in Bunbury (first I’d heard of it). I went to Bunbury Hospital in person to ask about it and they said it’d just been made that morning. They confirmed the referral got to them 13 days prior but said that it had been waiting on a doctor in Perth to triage it and assign it a priority, and until that was done they couldn’t do anything about it.
Part of me wants to be cynical and think that this is a lie and they finally picked up the referral because of the second, angrier message I’d left the day before. But even trusting that they’re telling the truth but in my opinion, it still points to a terrible system where a referral can gather dust for nearly two weeks and apparently no-one notices (except the frustrated and worried patient).
And then the worst part: the appointment they gave me wasn’t for another 13 days. I’m not a doctor. I don’t know if these weeks are going to make any difference to my survival. I don’t even know what I have yet besides “lymphoma”. I want a doctor to talk to me and explain these things! But no… they posted an appointment letter.
If I hadn’t gone there myself, it looks like that would’ve been the only communication I ever got. As it is, I barely know more than the appointment date. The desk staff tried to help but they couldn’t tell me anything more than what I’ve laid out here. And one of them—I’m sure they were trying to reassure me, bless them, but it did the complete opposite—one of the desk staff said that the Haematology clinic is so busy that I’m lucky I got an appointment date that’s as early as it is.
Lucky! As if any patient ever wants to hear that they’re “lucky” that their lifesaving treatment won’t be delayed as long as it could’ve been.
"Poor communication after cancer diagnosis"
About: Bunbury Hospital / Outpatients Clinic Bunbury Hospital Outpatients Clinic Bunbury 6230
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