ACU expert in family involvement in patient care and escalation Rett Quinney has called for a national system to be put in place in all hospitals to help patients escalate concerns about healthcare if they are dismissed.
The move follows a report into the death of a seven-year-old girl at Perth Children’s Hospital.
Speaking to the ABC’s AM program, Dr Quinney said a national system that acted like a triple-0 call from inside hospitals would allow parents to have the case reviewed by a senior staff member.
A WA Health Department report into the death of Aishwarya Aswath identified a cascade of missed opportunities as she and her parents waited for care in the emergency department.
It details how the girl’s parents tried to alert staff that she was deteriorating on five separate occasions as they waited almost two-hours in the ED, but that their concerns were ignored.
Dr Quinney said unless there is a national system in place, more people will die waiting for care in hospital.
In QLD, NSW and ACT, patients or heir family members are already able to call a number and request to have the case reviewed by a senior staff member if do not think they are getting adequate care.
There is a similar system in WA but it doesn’t extend to emergency department patients.
“In a perfect world a national system could have the same telephone number in every state across Australia,” Dr Quinney said.
“So if you travelling by caravan from Victoria to far north QLD, the same process will apply regardless of whatever hospital you access.
“If something is tucked away on a pinup board at the bottom of patient information area indicating the process that a family member needs to follow, it is not really easily found… and if information isn’t easily accessed then people don’t know where to go.”
Dr Quinney said family members are a valid resource in planning and delivery of care.
Concerns that having such a system in place would see every patient try to escalate their case were unfounded, she said.
“All of the research shows that doesn’t occur. Most caregivers when they come into hospital are really conscious of not making a fuss or being a bother and that therein becomes part of the risk, that people become reluctant to step forward.”