The best of 2016: This hospital experience was disgraceful

My mum is 92, and on Melbourne Cup Day she buckled over and started crying and yelling. She was experiencing

My mum is 92, and on Melbourne Cup Day she buckled over and started crying and yelling. She was experiencing pain in her shoulder and right arm… My mother does not cry, so when I saw her so vulnerable I called Triple 0 without hesitation.

They were quick to arrive and were very gentle with Mum. They gave her that green whistle with the drugs in it to suck on until we got to the hospital. But then things went downhill.

At first doctors thought it was frozen shoulder. However, test after test revealed nothing and even though Mum was drugged tot he eyeballs she still could not move her arm without tears and whimpering. It did not matter how much I said “She was just sitting on the back porch when it happened” the hospital staff did not want to listen. The insisted that she must have strained it. How can she strain her shoulder so dramatically without even moving?

I was completely ignored when I expressed concern about a cough she had developed in the past couple of weeks. I felt totally invisible, and believe me, I am difficult to miss.

After about six hours they decided they had done all they could, which turned out to be nothing.

Mum was put in a stabiliser and was sent home with tablets for pain relief. I asked for a wheelchair to get Mum out of Emergency to the taxi rank and was told there were none available. A wheely walker? Also none available. My informing them that my mother was bone-on-bone i both knees fell on deaf ears. In the end, Mum used me as a crutch.

When she asked me for pain relief that night my gut instinct told me to investigate the medication she had been given, and a good thing too! Much to my horror she had been given a morphine-based drug that also contained codeine. They had failed to check her allergy charts. I hate to think what would have happened had I given Mum one of these tablets.

Unusually, by 2:30am the next morning she said she was pain free and demonstrated full movement in her arm and shoulder. It didn’t add up to being a ‘strain’. In fact, it didn’t make sense at all.

Three days after our hospital visit, Mum went downhill rapidly. I took her to the doctors and she was diagnosed with a lung infection. The doctor said the pain she experienced on Melbourne Cup Day would have been a symptom, and because she did not get proper care and attention at the time she now had bronchitis, which put her in a lot of pain and discomfort.

I could tell the doctor was none too impressed when he read the paperwork from the hospital, but he did not go so far as to admit a mistake had been made.

Having cared for Mum for the past four years I know that the older we get the more difficult it is to keep the medical profession interested in our wellbeing. I realise no one can live forever, not even my mother, but even with her myriad problems there remains a thing called ‘Duty of Care’… At least there was. I feel it went right out the window when Mum visited the hospital.

Share your thoughts with us.

This piece was originally published on Starts at 60 as ‘Letter to the Editor: The disgrace of my last hospital visit’. It was one of our most popular contributions by the Starts at 60 community in 2016.

Dymocks Blogger Rewards

We love getting blogs from our community. To write for Starts at 60 in 2017 and potentially win a $20 voucher, send your articles to our Community Editor here.

  1. Lea hibbs  

    My mum also had a bad experience with Blacktown Hospital in 2015 . My mum had a stroke in the beginning of January 2015 on the right side of her face . My daughter noticed that the right side of my mum’s face was red and swollen like she had an infection. She rang the ambulance who took her to Blacktown hospital the nurses took her vitals and did blood tests and thought she would be discharged in the morning. The doctor who treated my mum was arrogant told us we need to use biotene on her gums, She then told us to take her home upon asking the doctor if she could stay overnight we were told they were not a babysitting service. We had to wait for a patient ambulance as my mum was bed bound and did get home until 12.30am in the morning when it was raining and cold. On Monday my daughter received a phone call from the hospital stating they received the results from her blood test and she had an infection and we need to take her back to hospital. The doctor should have waited until the results came back for my mum instead of sending her home. They failed in their duty of care by sending an elderly person home in the early hours of the morning when it’s cold and not waiting for blood test results to come back making sure they was nothing wrong with her.

  2. Lynette Gray  

    I took my 88 year old Mum to emergency on the advice of a doctor and with a letter, and waited there with her for 8 hours. While I agree with the triage thing, I think to keep an elderly lady sitting there for that long without anything to eat or drink (meanwhile I asked to give her something) is disgusting. Mum has a form of bone cancer and had a fracture in her back, which wasn’t the reason she was there, but it was very uncomfortable for her. Surely the elderly and little ones can be seen sooner!

  3. Diana Ross  

    A few years ago, my husband (who is in his 70’s) complained of severe abdominal pain. He normally has a high pain threshold and won’t even take a paracetamol. The doctor sent him to hospital. When I visited the next day, he was in bed, fully dressed (his wallet in his back jeans pocket and even with his socks and shoes on). He was on nil by mouth, and had to send the nurse away with breakfast, when she came in. He was in too much pain to do much, so I helped him undress, and then went and yelled at the nurses. ‘Oh, we don’t know who’s responsibility he is’, I was told. I was furious, but hubby was my responsibility.
    When I left, he was washed and comfortably dressed for bed. From there on, over the next few days, a number of tests were performed, apparently showing nothing, so he was slated for discharge a few days later. When I came to collect him, the doctor was discussing him (by name) with the nurses. I was ignored. ‘The decision was voiced by the doctor was that he was a drug addict, looking for drugs.
    I refused to take him home without the results of the tests performed. ‘Privacy,’ they insisted!!! They could not give them to me!!!! ‘Give them to him’ was my annoyed answer.
    When we went to visit the GP a day or two later, there was no paperwork sent to the GP. Thanks to my insistence on records of all his bloods and Xrays the GP noted that a grossly enlarged aortic aneurysm was showing up in one of the Xrays. The doctor had him rushed to Melbourne, where he had emergency surgery – with him touch and go that he would make it.
    We are both totally unimpressed with the local hospital.

  4. Marlee  

    Must have been a public hospital! Another name for needing care in Hell!

    • Michael Hilt  

      From my own experience, public ER is much more effective than private.

    • Kathleen Marshall  

      I have been an in patient, through emergency in the Box Hill hospital and the Austin hospital this year, and have nothing but praise for the care I received from the nurses and doctors.
      I have top private health insurance, but would choose the public hospitals every time.

  5. Dianne Evans  

    Age of person should not affect the level of care they receive It happens to young people as well have had some very bad things happen to much younger family members in public hospitals always do a written complaint about it or nothing changes, some hospitals and staff are fantastic but you get bad and good.

    • Angela Johnston  

      I was booked in for a 12 week course of pudendal nerve stimulation therapy. This is for painful bladder symptoms which l have suffered for over 2 years. However the night before the first procedure was phoned by a nurse who cancelled the whole thing. I have just turned 60.

  6. elfa lerae  

    I was flown by plane to Melbourne for treatment for gallstones in the bile duct, ….my treatment at this particular hospital was fine till a filipino nurse took my blood one morning. I was treated as if I was an idiot and when I tried to tell her about how many needles and blood samples were taken, she deliberately shoved the needle into my arm with such force that I cried. I dont cry. I have never got over her blatant brutality in such unnecessary circumstances.

  7. Y. Vishnich  

    On the other side of the coin, I have been admitted to QEH Adelaide 3 times for atrial fibrilation for which a pacemaker was inserted. The next year my husband was admitted with a mild stroke, the next day I was admitted with fluid on the lungs. A no time can I complain about the treatment either by the doctors or the nurses, I have heard of negative comments by other people, but I can only speak for myself.

  8. Zoe Kiriazis  

    My husband fell off a ladder, he was in great pain and was unable to.walk so our neighbors helped to put him in the car.I then drove him to a hospital whereby he was told to get out of car so with the help of a stranger there we lifted him out while nurse told us she wasn’t paid to do heavy lifting.when I asked for a wheelchair she told us there were none and my husband was told not to drink so much,he wasn’t believed that he was in so much pain. Next two months was spent crawling around because he could not stand up and walk ,take some panadol they said.Disgusting !!!

    • Lee  

      What was the morphine based medication that contained codeine??

    • Same canonical tag was updated by mistake in all the site pages instead of just the relevant paAetgf.er the canonical tag has been removed from the irrelevant pages, i see in the new cashed version of those pages that they are still showing the cashed version of the link that was in the canonical tag (Although the date of the cashing is few days after the pages have already been updated). I expected Google to be updated according to the new code in those pages (without the canonical link). How long it may take for Google to consider the update in those pages?

  9. Margaret reid  

    I was treated rudely by a physio or junior doctor at my local hospital he never introduced himself I had an appointment at the outpatient physio dept it lasted 4 mins this was at the geelong hospital I did write a letter of complaint but I never got a reply

  10. karen stooke  

    Any time l have required help at Frankston Hospital the care has been wonderful.

  11. Angela Johnston  

    I suffered a tibial plateau fracture which required surgery and 8 days in hospital. Am now full of metal. Upon my departure l wasn’t even given a panadol. Was screaming at home in the night with the pain. Was left for 5 days before the surgery as it was the weekend and I had to squeeze in between their list surgery.

  12. Maria  

    Just testing before I submit, nothing appears to happen !!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *