Skip to: Site menu | Main content

Blog > Emergency Room? Yeah right, hurry up and wait!

>> Emergency Room? Yeah right, hurry up and wait!

Wed, Mar 23rd 4:37pm 2005: Family

My wife had a bit of a scary experience this morning. She was outside with Thomas and Amelia, but Amelia was playing in a different part of the garden out of sight and Ann heard her give a big scream. She put Thomas down in the pram and ran around the side of the house to Amelia, who just said "Jessie did it" or something and then passed out, stopped breathing and wet herself. Her eyes rolled back in her head and Ann tried to hold her up (she's getting mighty big!) and half dragged, half carried her around toward the front of the house screaming for someone to help her. At that point Ann thought Amelia was dying, so she was just a *little* bit stressed!

Our neighbour Barry heard and came running, then jumped over the fence and just about as he got to them Amelia started to regain consciousness. Barry's daughter then got another neighbour to come and take Thomas (who had been left in the back yard), they called me at work to tell me what was happening, loaded Amelia into the car and picked me up on the way to the hospital.

Whew. Hectic few minutes!

Jumping to the end of the story, Amelia is fine now. The doctor thinks what may have happened is she had an accident of some kind (we're not sure what since she's got no lumps or bumps and no memory of the event), then went into shock. Low blood pressure and a falling heart rate then deprived her brain of oxygen and she passed out. They don't think there's any head trauma so right now there's not much to go on.

But anyway, what got me really mad is what happened when we got to Maroondah Hospital. Inside the emergency room is a little sign that shows emergency categories, and the time taken to be seen by a doctor in each category:

1: Seen immediately.
2: Seen within 10 minutes.
3: Seen within 20 minutes.
4: Seen within 1 hour.
5: Seen within 2 hours.

An ER waiting room is where they're meant to do triage, right? As in, immediately assess each incoming case and classify them based on urgency? Then once classified you're likely to wait the period of time listed above?

Yeah, sure thing.

Here are the approximate times (later ones are more accurate because by then we were less panicked and I was actually getting pissed off and taking notes):

10:15am - event occurs.
10:40am - arrive in ER.
11:30am - get to front of triage queue (!)
12:01pm - triage assessment complete.
12:07pm - moved into assessment room.
12:12pm - doctor arrives for assessment.
2:21pm - we're told she's OK to go once paperwork done.
2:44pm - given paperwork and leave.

Once we actually got to the point of having a doctor look at Amelia everything went pretty well - but getting to that point was a farce! It took 50 minutes from the time we arrived in the ER until the first words were spoken between hospital staff and ourselves. 50 minutes without even being asked if we had a serious problem! Then when we made it to the front of the queue the triage nurse started the process of finding out what the problem was, then was called away to deal with some internal issue and didn't come back for over 15 minutes! In that time there was *no-one* doing assessments and there was a queue of people behind us who'd been there for up to an hour by that time as well.

So a full 1 hour and 21 minutes after we arrive in the ER they get to the point of making a decision about how serious her situation is, and decide it's probably pretty serious and she should see a doctor right away. Well, derr!

And at 1 hour and 32 minutes after arriving a doctor actually looks at Amelia for the first time.

So much for their urgency classification. I suppose they can justify it by saying she was seen by a doctor only 11 minutes after they finished assessing the urgency of her case. Like that makes up for the time taken to get to that point. When we started talking to the doctor she asked when it had happened, and when we said 10:15 she was a bit shocked and wondered why we'd taken so long to get her in to hospital. When we explained that we'd been out in the waiting room all that time she was even more shocked.

Anyway, I'd better stop ranting now. I didn't know whether I should categorise this as an "Evil People" entry or a "Family" entry, but I eventually decided that I wouldn't label all of Maroondah Hospital as Evil because there were a couple of very good people we encountered today, and I don't want to tar them all with the same Evil brush.

Bookmark and Share