The hospital that almost killed me – follow up

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I just sent an email to the general manager of the hospital which almost killed me. The hospital where, after a total hysterectomy a major abdominal surgery, I suffered serious complications, internal bleeding, which almost caused my death.

For five days I was in that hospital, begging for help.  I complained of severe pain in my head, which they didn’t treat.  Nurses came and went and all ignored me. I begged to see doctors and was refused.  I begged for help and was refused. I had a friend who visited three times and she sat by my bed and watched as I writhed in agony and begged her for help..and she did nothing.  I was in constant pain, crying and begging.   Eventually, they just shut my door on me. I was told I was iupsetting other patients and to quiet down.  I received no treatment, no care.

What none of these people noticed was that I was bleeding internally.  My heart rate was over 140 beats per minute.  My blood pressure went as low as 70/40.  I could’t stand up without falling down. They thought I was faking.  They thought I was a hypochondriac. One of then nurses actually told me to pray, told me to repeat “jesus please save me” over and over.  I was so desperate that I did.

In the beginning, when I woke up from surgery in agony, I had a fentanyl pump.  Patient controlled analgesia.  I could press the button to receive more pain medication, up to once every five minutes.  I remember counting.   Constantly counting.  One to 60…one minute. I would do this five times.  Then I could hit the button!  Maybe THIS time it would work?

And..nothing.

Of course it didn’t help. I’d been on long term opioids, oxycodone, for my rheumatoid arthritis pain.  I took up to 80mg daily.  They gave me the same dose that they would give an opioid naïve patient i.e.  a patient who has never taken opioids before.  They gave me the equivalent of 5mg. FIVE MILLIGRAMS!  When I was used to taking 80mg per day.

So of course, the fentanyl did nothing.  It would have done nothing if the surgery had gone perfectly.  But given I’d had major complications and was in agony, it was worse than nothing. They refused to give me more. Finally, they doubled that dose.  Fantastic. 10 mg when I needed 80mg.

I lost almost 50% of my blood.  I know now that most people who lose that much blood don’t survive.  It’s a miracle that I lived.  On the fifth day I was transferred to the ER across the road in the public hospital where they finally gave me pain relief, and gave me blood transfusions to save my life.

I had massive bruising all over my back and torso. Bruising from the blood pooling inside my body.  50% of my blood.

I was in a hospital, dying. I couldn’t get treatment, in a hospital.  After a surgery, with a very common complication.  It should have been spotted on the first day, and I should have been treated.

Instead, I was ignored.  Ignored by my surgeron. By two staff doctors at the hospital, by 12 nurses who ‘took care of me’ around the clock, by one physiotherapist who was supposed to get my up and walking, and one hospital administrator who tried to throw me out of the hospital on the fifth day, because I’d over stayed my time.

They thought I was a hypochondriac.  They said I didn’t look like I was in that much pain. Its written in the file.

Just writing this is distressing me, I want to cry. I can’t believe that this could happen to anyone. But it did happen to me.  Its almost two years ago now, and the pain is still fresh. I have PTSD, and no one wants to talk about it.

I made a complaint about my surgeon, and the medical authorities are investigating her.  She will be punished, I hope.  I also complained about the hospital, to the Human Rights Commission, which is the relevant authority here in the Australian Capital Territory, where this incident happened.

I went to a conciliation session, which was utter hell for me. I had to meet with these people, discuss the whole incident, run through everything.  It was emotional hell. It cost me a lot.  I was terrified. I cried.  I suffered through the whole thing, again.

They tried to suggest that it had been my fault for not speaking up. I remember vehemently denying this, and putting them in their place.

There was NOTHING more I could do. Nurses ignored me. They didn’t escalate the situation. They wrote on the file that I didn’t look like I was in that much pain.

It was NOT my fault. There was NOTHIING I could have done to change it. I was utterly at their mercy, and they very nearly killed me.

My friend who sat by their bed, told them I was a drug addict, and not to treat me.  This is incredible to me, both that she could do something SO cruel, and that they believed her!

The hospital was negligent.  Very negligent. 

In the conciliation session they asked me what I wanted. I said I wanted procedures to change. I wanted nurses to be trained better. To understand that You cannot tell how much pain someone is in by how they look!

I signed a paper that says I will not discuss what was in that agreement, but I can say that I asked for a few things to be done, and they agreed that they would do them.

In one week it will be ONE YEAR since that conciliation session.  One full year.

I have heard NOTHING since that day.  It was a terrible, traumatic day for me.  It took me right back to suffering in that hospital bed, and it took a few weeks for me to recover from that meeting.

But I felt hope, that I had achieved something. That changes would be made.

And I have heard nothing. Nothing has been done. Nothing had changed.  In the intervening year a friend of a friend bled out after a surgery and almost died. Two other people didn’t have their pain address, and one almost died. The hospital is a death trap.  And this is just sheer co-incidence that I’ve heard this from friends.

Nothing has changed. They paid me lip service and promptly forgot I existed. 

They have done nothing.

So I just emailed the general manage of the hospital for an update.  I anxiously await her response.

I can’t reveal what was in the agreement, but I can talk to the media. I can write a book about this experience.  I can publicise the horror of what happened to me.

I’ll give her 48 hours to respond.  And then I’ll take whatever other action I can.  This hospital is killing people, and I have to do something about it.  Watch this space.

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