Family anger over 11-hour wait

By Tate Papworth

Ron Baldacchino’s family say he’s lucky to be alive after he was forced to endure a gruelling 11-hour wait to see a doctor at Sunshine Hospital’s emergency department.

The 69-year-old was taken to the hospital at 2am on Sunday, March 3, suffering acute appendicitis. He waited until 1pm to see a doctor.

Mr Baldacchino’s daughter, Amy Montague, said the St Albans family grew more and more frustrated as other patients were prioritised.

“His pain and fever were not considered life threatening enough to prioritise him,”
Ms Montague said. “We sat in frustration as the waiting room repeatedly filled, emptied, filled and emptied again.”

It then took a further two hours before a CT scan was done and a diagnosis made, resulting in Mr Baldacchino being transferred to a ward and into surgery six hours later.

His family believe the wait turned what should have been a simple keyhole procedure into a potentially life-threatening situation.

“His appendix completely died,”
Ms Montague said. “When the tissue dies it fills with pus and that spread … causing infection.”

The family plans to draft a letter of complaint to be sent to Health Minister Jenny Mikakos.

Western Health executive director operations Natasha Toohey said the wait times were unavoidable during peak periods.

“Western Health would like to apologise to any patients who have experienced extended waiting times in our emergency departments,” she said.

However, she said the hospital will soon be better placed to deal with demand when the hospital redevelopments were completed.

Patients presenting at Sunshine Hospital face some of the longest wait times in the country.

According to the federal government’s MyHospitals website 69 per cent of emergency patients (those requiring treatment within 10 minutes) were treated within 10 minutes of arrival, compared to the national peer group performance of 77 per cent for 2017-18.