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"Patient discharge without support"

About: Bunbury Hospital / Emergency Department

(as a relative),

My elderly parent was taken by ambulance to Bunbury Regional Hospital after a fall. I attended their house and let the ambulance paramedics inside. At the time they described the pain as 11/10.

At the hospital, my parent was given pain medication and scans and diagnosed with 2 broken ribs. As this occurred early in the morning they told me not to accompany them in the ambulance but to come later once they had been assessed.

A few hours later as I was on my way to the hospital when my parent phoned to ask me to pick them up as they were being sent home. I couldn't believe that they would send a frail patient, who lives alone, home with 2 broken ribs and no at-home care or services.

When I arrived at emergency to pick my parent up, I was told they had already been discharged. (They were actually seated in the emergency waiting area) I asked if I could talk to the Dr and told the triage nurse I was concerned my parent wouldn't be able to manage without support at home. I believe the nurse went to see the Dr but came back saying they were busy but was happy for us to go home as my parent had told the Dr that they would manage.

My parent was sent home with Anti-inflammatory medication but I believe no pain medication. As they were dosed up on strong pain medication they did manage for the first 12 hours but quickly went downhill.

The following day my parent needed help getting in and out of bed, dressing, toileting etc. We contacted my parent's home care provider and had to organise personal care at their expense ($69 hour and they are on a pension) and pain medication through the GP. The home care provider informed us that my parent would most likely have qualified for transitional care if they had been admitted to the hospital, something I believe my parent was not informed of.

Now a week on and after multiple phone calls and support from my parent's care provider, they have had personal care and social support (shopping, driving) added to their home care package after having been given Emergency status by the Regional Assessment Team via My Aged Care. All of this information I feel should have been provided prior to their discharge.

I believe the hospital should have a duty of care to make sure their patient has adequate support before being discharged.

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Response from Stephen Hartwig, Acting Director of Emergency Medicine, Bunbury Hospital, WACHS South West last month
Stephen Hartwig
Acting Director of Emergency Medicine, Bunbury Hospital,
WACHS South West
Submitted on 18/10/2021 at 20:30
Published on Care Opinion on 19/10/2021 at 09:48

Dear virgobg74,

I am sorry for the difficult time that your parent has experienced, and that they were discharged before you felt was safe.

I would be grateful if you could provide details to our customer liaison team so that we can follow this up and communicate directly with your parent and you.

Their email is and phone number is 08 9722 1521.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Steve Hartwig

Emergency Medicine Specialist, Bunbury Hospital

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