An elderly Perth woman who claims she was left on a stretcher in a hospital corridor for nine hours says the experience was “sickening and dehumanising”.
The 84-year-old woman, who is a former nurse, was advised she should go to hospital after an “unforeseen incident” during a routine medical procedure earlier this week.
A bed was then arranged for the woman at St John of God Hospital in Murdoch, with an ambulance arriving at 9pm, three hours after it was called.
During the waiting period, the woman – whose firsthand account of her experience was published on the Australian Medical Association WA’s website on Thursday – continued to be monitored and treated. However the hospital decided not to take her in after a paramedic reported she had a raised temperature.
She was then taken to Fiona Stanley Hospital in Murdoch.
“I was not too concerned at this time as my husband had received a good standard of emergency care there a couple of years previously,” the ex-nurse said in a recount of her experience.
“How wrong I was.”
When she arrived at the hospital, the 84-year-old claims she was taken to a corridor on the ambulance stretcher where she was made to wait nine hours before being admitted to the Emergency Department.
“During this time the paramedics continued to monitor and care for me,” she said.
‘The night was interminable and exhausting.’
“I felt exhausted, unwell and stressed by the whole situation.
“I had not eaten or drunk much and had fasted for a period prior to my procedure.
“I was ‘scared‘ to drink too much as there were no bathroom facilities anywhere near where I was in the corridor.”
The elderly woman added no nourishing foods or drinks were offered and she was only given “water, weak tea in a plastic cup and a jam sandwich which I felt was inedible” after making a request.
“A doctor came at about 11pm to take blood for tests and she brought me a ham and salad sandwich, also inedible in my opinion,” the woman said.
“I stayed in my own clothing, could not have a wash or clean my teeth and was not questioned or offered any of the routine medicines I take.
“All this may seem petty to you but was all part of the whole sickening and dehumanising experience.
“The night was interminable and exhausting.”
From overheard conversations, the woman claims due to ambulance ramping, at one stage there were about 30 patients waiting to be admitted.
“I tried to be patient as I realised there were patients with more serious conditions than me waiting,” she added.
At one point, she even discussed signing herself out but paramedics talked her out of it “as I obviously needed further investigation and treatment”.
The woman finally made it to the Emergency Department at 6am – 12 hours after an ambulance was first called.
She was seen by a doctor at 8am and then a specialist at 10am, before being discharged at 2pm with a prescription and advice to see her GP if necessary.
The elderly woman added she had always been proud of the standard of healthcare in Western Australia but the experience changed her mind.
“I feel so sad that the Western Australian health care system has been reduced to this unacceptable low level,” she said.
She added she felt appalled at the waste of time of qualified paramedics and said hospital staff “seemed overworked and exhausted” when she eventually saw them.
7NEWS.com.au has reached out to the South Metropolitan Health Service for comment.