Long delays in being seen

(as the patient),

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About: Sydney / Sydney Eye Hospital

Early one morning I woke from a deep sleep with excruciating pain in my left eye and excessive lachrymation. The Sydney Eye Hospital told my friend that they had a 24 hour Emergency Department. We arrived early morning and were told there would be no doctor there for several hours. An hour after arriving a nurse looked at my eye, and administered an ampoule of local anaesthetic and sent me back to the waiting room. I felt the nurse's examination was poor and they were extremely dismissive.

The only relief I could get was by applying pressure to both eyeballs to prevent any movement and I lay across the seats of two chairs because my arms had begun to ache. One of the staff then appeared from behind their computer and told me to sit up, as I cannot lie down in the waiting room. There were no other patients in the waiting room. A second nurse named Georgia examined me another hour later. She was extremely thorough, quite concerned and told me the doctor would arrive soon and I would be the first to be seen. At least four other people were seen before me, some of whom had wandered in with no appointment.

Later again, I was seen by a Registrar, three hours after arriving. A horizontal corneal abrasion was found as well as a foreign body lodged within the cornea. The registrar informed me the pain level was on par with childbirth. I had told them it was equivalent to the pain of a large kidney stone or a case of "Christmas Eye", both of which I had suffered years ago. The eye subsequently required irrigation, performed by the second nurse, Georgia. Georgia is an absolute asset to this hospital. Within her level of training, she is thorough, caring and extremely good at her job. I cannot say the same about other staff at the hospital - in my opinion they have absolutely no concern for patient well-being and an obsessive concern about what is on their computer screen.

My mistake was that I tried to manage my pain for the three hours before being seen, quietly and without causing any fuss, quite unlike other people who wandered in and kept demanding attention. Eventually I was offered a bed in the hospital but knowing that all foreign bodies had been removed from my eye, I went home to quietly rest with the applied eye pad.

My experience at the Eye Hospital was abysmal and I believe there should be major changes made to the way they triage patients. I do not believe they can claim to have a 24 hour Emergency Department. A tiny touch of concern for the patient may help alleviate the concern caused by long delays in being seen and the misinformation provided. On a positive note, when I was eventually seen by the Registrar, they were thorough and did find the problem. Nurse Georgia should be highly commended for her diligence and concern.

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Response from Pauline Rumma, Director, Clinical Services, Sydney and Sydney Eye Hospital

Dear orangeeg66,

Thank you for taking the time to share your experience with us. I was extremely disappointed to hear your story and I apologise that your experience early in your presentation was poor and the communication from the staff on your waiting time was not satisfactory. I was very pleased to hear of the wonderful care you received from the nurse Georgia and the Eye Registrar. We are very fortunate to have highly skilled and dedicated staff working within our hospital. I am sure the staff involved will be very grateful to hear of the kind acknowledgement you have given them. Once again, I thank you for taking the time to share your feedback about your experience. Your feedback gives us the opportunity to identify areas for improvement to reduce the likelihood of a similar occurrence in the future.

I hope your eye is improving.

Kind regards

Dr Pauline Rumma

Director of Clinical Services

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