Left in casualty for days

Written By miftah nugraha on Sabtu, 20 April 2013 | 19.55

THE Royal Hobart Hospital has ordered a review into why a patient spent two days waiting for treatment on a trolley in its emergency department.

Kingston man David Dawes said despite having private health cover and always paying his Medicare levy, he was forced to lie on the trolley and a chair in the public hospital while he waited for a bed.

"There were other people waiting to go upstairs to a ward too, it's disgraceful," he said.

The hospital said the length of time Mr Dawes, 56, had to wait for a bed was unacceptable and it would investigate the matter.

Mr Dawes first went to hospital after an accident left a drill bit in his foot.

The Hobart Private Hospital had no access to an orthopaedic surgeon that day so he had his operation in the Royal.

But a week later his GP said his sore, reddened leg was infected and sent him back to hospital – where he waited, and waited.

Mr Dawes said he went to the Royal at lunchtime on Monday, April 8 and was not sent to his own room until late on Wednesday, April 10.

Tasmanian Health Organisation South chief executive Jane Holden said Mr Dawes waited 46 hours.

"Mr Dawes spent an unacceptable amount of time in ED awaiting a ward bed," Ms Holden said.

"This length of stay in ED raises serious issues, which have been referred for clinical and operational review."

The Hobart Private Hospital said orthopaedic specialists who accepted referrals from its emergency department might sometimes be unavailable and in such cases they would advise and organise a transfer to the RHH.

Mr Dawes said he spent a day and a half on a trolley in the RHH then another day in the children's emergency section on a reclining chair that was so badly positioned he was having physio for back pain.

"I couldn't adjust it and I was sitting on timber," he said.

He was on a drip and having observations taken and said he was only given sandwiches until he demanded a meal.

His sister Judy Bishop said she felt sorry for nursing staff who often ended up working extra shifts, but that it must put patient care in jeopardy.

"This must happen to people all the time, we aren't an isolated case," she said.

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