A Mandurah mother-of-three was made to wait in her urine-soaked pants for about 45 minutes after arriving by ambulance at the Peel Health Campus (PHC) emergency department, for a lung disease infection.
Josephine Foster, who suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, said her doctor called an ambulance after she was having trouble breathing on September 4, 2017, following a two-week unsuccessful stint on antibiotics for a lung infection.
“She took my blood oxygen and said it was very low, so she called the ambulance,” Josephine said.
Josephine was transferred to the hospital at 11.30am, and was made to wait on a stretcher for about 20 minutes with paramedics, she said.
“I was there with three other people waiting on beds,” Josephine said. “They had us on the side to make room for anyone else who was going to turn up.”
Josephine said she was put on a wheelchair and moved to another room, where she proceeded to wait alone for a further 45 minutes.
She wet herself repeatedly from bouts of coughing due to the infection.
“I couldn’t breathe properly and I was covered in my own urine,” Josephine said. “At the time I couldn’t have cared less, I was so unwell. When I got up to complain, I had to hold everything along the way or I would have fallen over, because I was so dizzy.”
When she reached the counter, Josephine said she told the clerk she would call the police and have someone charged, if she was not seen immediately.
“My name was called within minutes,” she said. “They had to help me through the door...drips went in to me and I was hooked up to oxygen...I was in there for eight days.”
They had to help me through the door...drips went in to me and I was hooked up to oxygen...I was in there for eight days.Mandurah mother Josephine Foster
Josephine said her daughter found out she was in hospital four days after she was admitted, despite being her next of kin.
“I called my daughter four days later, and she could not believe I was in hospital,” Josephine said.
“I had ticked the box for her to be called and had written her details down. She was really upset she had not been contacted.”
Prior to being discharged, Josephine attempted to apply for home care, but a staff member told her it would take “up to six weeks” for the service to be organised.
Josephine later found out that she was eligible for the service to commence the day she was discharged.
Josephine told the Mandurah Mail she was angry she had to make a threat in order to be seen by a doctor in that state, and said she would now purchase ambulance insurance so she could be transferred to a Perth hospital in a future emergency.
A PHC spokesperson said they were sorry for the issues Josephine experienced at the hospital.
“At the time of her attendance to the ED, it was an extremely busy time for Peel Health Campus,” the spokesperson said.
“However, once we realised her situation, the staff were responsive and very apologetic.”
The spokesperson said about 3,500 patients presented to the ED each month and the hospital received “relatively few complaints”.
After lodging a complaint about her treatment in September, Josephine received a letter from the hospital saying a “full investigation” had been conducted.
It said Josephine’s complaint had prompted a review in to the hospital discharge process and consequently staff were educated on communication and ensuring next of kin were contacted.
On average, 43 per cent of PHC patients arriving by ambulance were handed over to emergency department staff within 20 minutes of arrival, between March 19 and 26, 2018, according to the Department of Health.
PHC has also fallen behind other West Australian hospital departments in meeting the “four-hour rule”, that requires 90 per cent of all ED patients to be treated in less than four hours.
More than 30 per cent of patients who attended the PHC ED between October and December in 2017, had an episode length exceeding four hours, according to the WA quarterly report.
This was the highest episode length percentage of all West Australian hospitals during this period.
PHC statistics disclosing ED daily wait times and the amount of ambulance diversions to other hospitals is not made available to the public. It is the only metropolitan hospital that does not have these results accessible online.
A Department of Health spokesperson said this information was not available because the data provided to the department from the hospital was “not consistent with the minimum specifications necessary for inclusion”.
“The Department of Health is working with the PHC to include emergency department data in the emergency department activity public reports,” the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson told the Mandurah Mail a timeframe for the provision of this information to the public was not available.