Friday, September 04, 2009

Elderly patient left on bedpan for days


September 4, 2009

AN ELDERLY man is being treated for a life-threatening infection after he was allegedly left on a bedpan for as much as five days in a Sydney hospital, the Herald has learnt.

The man, 80, from Gladesville, was forced to undergo two bouts of surgery after the green pan became embedded in his skin, causing massive ulcers on both buttocks and leaving him with a hole at the base of his spine big enough to fit two fists.

The Herald understands the man, a patient at Concord Repatriation General Hospital since early July, has limited English and was not able to inform staff the bedpan had not been removed. It is believed his family was told of the incident only two weeks after the pan was discovered and his buttocks had become severely infected, requiring surgery to debride the rotting skin.

The man was admitted with pneumonia and spent 19 days in intensive care and about seven days on a cardiac ward but it is believed the pan was discovered after he was transferred to a respiratory ward in early August.

The incident raises serious questions about whether the man, who was immobile, had been turned regularly to prevent bedsores, was washed or had his sheets changed during his time on the cardiac ward.

The hospital has refused to answer detailed questions on the case, citing patient confidentiality, but one senior staff member disputed that the man's injury had been caused by a bedpan or that he had been left unattended for up to five days.

He said it was still unclear how the injury had occurred or who had been responsible.

The man has two long incisions on each buttock and a big open sore near his sacrum, but he must sit or lie lay on the damaged areas because his pneumonia prevents him lying on his stomach.

He was moved into a single room with an $8000 mattress yesterday after the Herald contacted the hospital.

A spokesman for Sydney South West Area Health Service said the hospital was taking the claims seriously and had apologised to the family for any distress caused.

''The possibility of a patient being left on a bedpan for the length of time suggested is implausible. Patients who are confined to bed are regularly and routinely turned and provided with pressure-relieving treatment to prevent bedsores,'' the spokesman said.

Lillian Jeter, from the Elder Abuse Prevention Association, said the case appeared to be one of ''severe negligence''.

''If this allegation is true, this man was subjected to significant elder abuse and mistreatment in a public place where he should have been getting care.''

Kate Benson is the Herald's Medical Reporter”

I sent out letters to the editors of as many papers as i could about this. it is just sickening and makes my flesh crawl.

"The shocking instance of the elderly man left on a bedpan for days and having to have the pan surgically removed inside Concord hospital should be the last straw for all thinking and feeling people. Again this instance of brutality against a frail old man only surfaced because it was so shocking. How many almost as bad lie hidden because they haven’t caught the ear of the media?

In this instance not just the nurses to be called to account. The elderly man was in hospital with Pneumonia. Therefore he must have been seeing a doctor daily and Physio a couple of times a day. Cleaners, Nurses, Doctors, Physios and right up to the CEO should be called to account for this neglect.

The smell must have permeated the whole unit. No one would have been unaware and because of that they are all accountable. Was he not fed, at all? Did no one clean his teeth, brush his hair? I know in RNSH hospital when my husband was there that sheets and pillowslips were seldom changed, teeth seldom cleaned, but the neglect of this man is breathtaking.

Why is gross medical neglect any less a crime than assault? When will patients and relatives be able to go to the police and claim assault and other against such shocking abuse? Why because it is "Medical" is there no accountability? The NSW Health Care Complaints Commission is a joke and has no teeth at all nor the will to bite.

In NSW you are on, your own should you be injured or killed by medical assault. Its time that patients and relatives had the same rights to justice as every over person does in NSW when they are injured or killed with gross neglect and carelessness. Medical should have no claim to any moral high ground when at all levels in NSW hospitals such instances are usually covered up, the relatives quitened or worn down by a broken system, and for all the high tech they can’t even avoid pressure sores, or remove a bed pan."


Sling said...

This is very nearly incomprehensible.

rosemary said...

someone...anyone...questions that this poor man wasn't turned? He wasn't.....he wasn't bathed, checked, fed or turned. He was ignored.

Anne said...

Really unbelivable and bloody horrific! My friend's dad fell of his bed pan and they found him on the floor, that was bad enough as some hours had passed but not days as in this case.

Interesting post about your sisters. I only have one and I've been there for her over the past 7 years since her husband died aged 49.

Also noted your thoughts on how people are treating you or ingoring you after Don's death. Something we've really noticed this year after Peter was sick how people seem scared to stop and talk, even scared to pick up the phone and inquire. Really makes you realise who is there to support and who's not!

Mom said...

That just makes me sick!

Pat said...

My experience is that they really don't "turn" bedridden patients as much or often as they should. And they don't empty the the bedpans or (in Bob's case) the portable toilet buckets as often as they should. There have been times when we've arrived to visit w/Bob and could "smell" his room when we were still way down the hall! He resorted to putting a box over the bucket to try and contain the stench, because he had to give up on asking it to be emptied more often.

Ann ODyne said...

It isn't enough to read that "the hospital has apologised".
They should be on their knees begging forgiveness
I have seen hospital staff dump a plate of food in front of an elderly patient with a broken arm (and shock) and walk away knowing the patient could not cut the food up for eating.
It's a rotten world and we are upset for this poor man because we naively assume the world is not rotten.