Full knee replacement and the care that followed

(as the patient),

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About: Bunbury Hospital

I had a full knee replacement recently. I was up on the leg within 24 hours and all was going well. Soon after, a physio came in after my full knee replacement and told me I was being discharged. I asked, even though Silver Chain hasn't been organised? And they said yes, and they don't know anything about Silver Chain. They wanted to see how I walked on my crutches, and I had to explain I didn't receive any and still haven't. Anyhow, I walked a few steps, and they said that I wasn't ready for crutches then signed the discharge paper. (Interesting to note that the discharge note that I received a couple of weeks later stated that I was discharged with crutches.) I then had to fight to stay in and deal with comments from both nurses and junior doctors about how I was insisting on staying longer.

As an older person, I live on my own with no family or other support. The only way I could access Silver Chain aftercare was while in hospital. The lack of empathic listening continued. I was discharged with a two-week excused from work form although the surgeon had said that I was not to work for eight weeks post-surgery. The lack of communication between staff I feel was appalling.

The surgeon asks for ice. Nurses say there is no ice available. The fact that the nursing staff,occupational therapists and physios do not work together was very clear. I was in a room with four people. Each of the others mentioned how confusing the mismatched information was. Admittedly, I was in over a weekend when staffing is low.

All went well with my knee replacement except that I contracted a Urinary Tract Infection which was very slow to heal. I was able to walk almost normally at four weeks and then all of a sudden, over three days, I simply could not straighten my leg. Post-op physio was provided as a meeting on week two and then again at week six. At no time was I told that I could ask for additional physio, although the physio I saw on week two did tell me to ring if I was concerned about anything.  

When concerned, I rang up and was promptly told (by a different physio) to wait until the 6-week check-up. At the 6-week check-up, I was told by the assigned physiotherapist that I could not access hydrotherapy at the hospital without private insurance and then gave me a list of places that I could go. They then told me that the cost would be $25 per session. I told them that I was not in a position to pay that as I am on Newstart Allowance. They shrugged and told me that if it was important to me I would work something out. I was horrified by their attitude. They then told me that my GP could give me something which would get me into the private hospital pool.

I did as suggested and when the adjoining private hospital received the letter from my GP, someone rang me. I was informed that I could access the hydrotherapy pool through the regional hospital and that I had been misinformed. Over a week was lost, and while this does not sound like a lot, it is with regards to physio, trying to straighten a leg and avoid more surgery. The dismissive and belittling attitude of the physio was appalling. When I spoke with them recently (I am now in the hydro class) they denied everything that they had said before.

People make mistakes, that is part of being human. Behaviour that is dismissive, belittling, shaming and rude is not a mistake - it is an attitude. I felt completely unlistened to and under-valued as a human. This is not a reflection on the hospital or its service but of individual staff members. Unfortunately, both of these staff members are in the physio department. Perhaps there is an adaptation of how to deal with the public required in the physio staff’s cultural training. I don't know but I do know that what has happened has been inappropriate, unnecessary and not okay. Thank you for providing the vehicle to have a voice.

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