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Canberra Hospital Fails Duty of Care – Again

By dazzab - 27 July 2011 47

As much as I hate trial by media once again I have to report an appalling case of Canberra Hospital dropping the ball when it comes to providing mental health services.

A young family member recently overdosed on illicit drugs in a Canberra nightclub and was taken to hospital by ambulance. The next morning he attempted to discharge himself in spite of clearly being quite ill and having a documented long history of mental illness. So of course the inevitable happens and he ends up getting only as far as Civic before having a psychotic episode putting himself and the public in danger. Thank goodness no one was hurt but I wonder if ACT Health would accept liability had you or your family been involved in this, which could have easily been the case.

I also would like to report how well the ACT Police handled this situation. It really shows how much they have stepped up to the challenge of dealing with these types of situations and I am very grateful to them for keeping my relative and the public safe in very challenging circumstances. I do think it’s a shame that they have to do ACT Health’s job for them and it’s obvious that even they are not happy about this.

The last straw in this incident was my conversation with the now infamous Crisis Assessment and Treatment Team. Remember them? The team that services suicidal people who then walk out and kill themselves?

I wish that I had recorded the conversation to play back here and highly recommend that people start doing this. Before attending the Police station to see my relative I called them to ask why he had been released and if I could return him to the hospital given his history and that he clearly was quite ill. I was trying to be proactive and prevent further incidences.

The response was that an evaluation had been done months earlier on this individual, and that if I returned to the hospital it would be a minimum of eight hours sitting in the emergency room before we would be seen. This was followed by the standard lecture on how triage works. Thankfully the ACT Government has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on television ads to explain why they can’t provide services at the hospital unless you’ve had an arm ripped off or someone as stupid as me wouldn’t understand that.

I would like to explain to the Government that providing emergency services DOES NOT preclude also providing quick professional services to those in great pain or need who haven’t had their arm ripped off. If they would stop spending so much time and money telling us why they can’t do this they might actually be able to hire more staff and some people who know how to provide services. I for one, am very tired of being treated in a condescending manner by people who simply can’t rise to the challenge.

My relative is now recovering and dealing with the consequences of his actions. Thanks to the Police and family, this is one time where you won’t read about it on the front page of the Canberra Times.

What’s Your opinion?


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Canberra Hospital Fails Duty of Care – Again
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housebound 1:19 pm 30 Jul 11

There are unwell people who want to get better, unwell people who self-medicate with whatever they can get and still want to get better, and unwell people who are too unwell to even think about what ‘better’ might be. Some never used (beyond tobacco and and evening glass of wine), some were users first (which probably caused the illness, but that’s another story) and some were most definitely unwell first, were refused help, and used to deal with their world.

The big thing they have in common is that they all needed help at some stage to manage an illness that stopped them from thinking and behaving the way the rest of us do.

We could just lock up the people who used then got sick as a result – these seem to be the main targets of the vitriole in this thread – but we don’t take that approach to people with a whole variety of other illnesses.

Violet68 1:18 pm 30 Jul 11

Ben Dover, your comments reflect total denial of systemic failures and social responsibility – placing the blame on the individual and the family unit.
Personally, I have never been comfortable with my tax dollars going towards incarcerating people with *health* issues. Realistically, it’s not a good place to get well. As for taxpayers covering a 100% of a prison stay, you really don’t know what you are talking about do you?
I won’t go into the details of how much care I do provide. Let’s just say, as *no* treatment or care has recently been provided by the mental health system, I have been IT. That could be considered 100% when you think about it. Let me also add, that all sorts of barriers come into play once someone becomes an *adult*.
You don’t have to live someone to take on a caring role. You criticise me for not being around 24/7, relinquishing my role as *family* and becoming a carer, psychologist, medication manager, alcohol and drug worker, law enforcement officer etc etc etc yet I’m quite positive you would also criticise me if I quit my job, stopped paying my mortage, ignored the needs of my other children and moved in with my family member while claiming a Carers Pension……now wouldn’t you.

Ben_Dover 12:40 pm 30 Jul 11

So again the total lack of responsibility, and “everyone else is to blame” mentality is clearly shown.

You cannot have it both ways Violet, either you are providing 90% of this persons care or you are not. (Though the taxpayer is now providing 100%),

If you were providing care, your first step should be to ensure that your relative is not taking drugs which are detrimental to their mental health, and responsible for their deterioration, let alone growing and selling them.

BTW, how do you provide 90% of the care to someone who is obviously not domiciled with you?

Violet68 12:19 pm 30 Jul 11

Ben_Dover said :

Violet68 said :

Family already wear 90% of the caring role. I pay my tax as does my family member when he is able to work. An entire mental health system has been set up for reasons beyond your narrow view. As a taxpayer, I expect it to work and I expect promises of “no wrong door” policies to be fulfilled. If you don’t want a mental health system in place, write to the Minister. While you are at it, inform her of your opinions on comorbidity and your ability to diagnose primary issues. I’m sure she will appreciate your expertise in this area.

This from the person who, after her son was arrested the first time for smashing up his govvy property, and causing problems for all, was surprised that when the police busted him as second time for doing exactly the same thing, they found his hydrophobic cannabis set up still there (or was it a new one?)

Seeing as the “Family already wear 90% of the caring role”, why was his cannabis growing industry not removed?

Obviously when he grows cannabis, (which there is no doubt is detrimental to mentally ill people,) where was the family’s 90% role in ensuring he did not get back into it?

Obviously someone else’s fault!

So family members are not only responsible for providing Psychiatric treatment and care…..they are now responsible for law enforcement. Superpowers are also required to supervise our relatives 24/7 and we are expected to enter their homes and remove their property. Next, we will be expected to incarcerate them as well so there is absolutely no burden on the “tax payer” or society. Of course, we will still be expected to work full-time, pay taxes and remain healthy so that we ourselves don’t become a burden on society.

As for your personal attack on me, I would like to inform you that none of the MISinformation you refer to was mentioned in Court on the day. No fresh charges were laid so someone has embellished the truth (shock horror!). We are not talking about a menace to society causing trouble for all – or some kind of drug lord here drama queen. It was probably someone like you who printed out a previous thread and sent it off as a complaint. Nasty little people. FFS isn’t prison enough?

Ben_Dover 10:58 am 30 Jul 11

Violet68 said :

Family already wear 90% of the caring role. I pay my tax as does my family member when he is able to work. An entire mental health system has been set up for reasons beyond your narrow view. As a taxpayer, I expect it to work and I expect promises of “no wrong door” policies to be fulfilled. If you don’t want a mental health system in place, write to the Minister. While you are at it, inform her of your opinions on comorbidity and your ability to diagnose primary issues. I’m sure she will appreciate your expertise in this area.

This from the person who, after her son was arrested the first time for smashing up his govvy property, and causing problems for all, was surprised that when the police busted him as second time for doing exactly the same thing, they found his hydrophobic cannabis set up still there (or was it a new one?)

Seeing as the “Family already wear 90% of the caring role”, why was his cannabis growing industry not removed?

Obviously when he grows cannabis, (which there is no doubt is detrimental to mentally ill people,) where was the family’s 90% role in ensuring he did not get back into it?

Obviously someone else’s fault!

Calamity 10:20 am 29 Jul 11

Violet68 said :

Ben_Dover said :

Violet68 said :

If only they would just keep these ill people in hospital until they are actually well.

Yes, somebody else can look after them, and the taxpayer can pick up the expense, and once they are well, they can go back to their hydroponic cannabis growing and their taking drugs in clubs, and become “mentally ill” again, then the whole sorry tale can start over again, with everybody else being to blame of course.

Family already wear 90% of the caring role. I pay my tax as does my family member when he is able to work. An entire mental health system has been set up for reasons beyond your narrow view. As a taxpayer, I expect it to work and I expect promises of “no wrong door” policies to be fulfilled. If you don’t want a mental health system in place, write to the Minister. While you are at it, inform her of your opinions on comorbidity and your ability to diagnose primary issues. I’m sure she will appreciate your expertise in this area.

I would be happy to think my tax dollars were going towards this cause.

I really can’t see why people can be so aggressive and/or unsympathetic towards the mentally ill – I assume because often it can often go hand in hand with law-breaking behaviour. In case you haven’t noticed, a HUGE percentage of people have taken or regularly take drugs. Why is this so much more unacceptable when the person in question is mentally unwell? Because it exacerbates their condition? It seems to be that the attitude here should be quite the opposite, as whether you like it or not – these people are often NOT in control of their behaviour to the extent that you are. Their decision-making skills are not as sharp. They will take risks, they will make bad choices – just like the rest of us, however the ramifications can be so much worse for them.

I understand the attitude of not wanting to babysit people who fail to look after themselves, can’t help those that don’t want to be helped, etc. But I think we should be trying in every way we can when that attitude is caused by a legitimate mental condition.

Having said all this, I’m not throwing my weight behind either standpoint in this particularly case. I’m not saying the hospital should have detained this particularly person. I suppose I just want to point out that the mental health system should be of a huge importance to us all – and some of the comments here make me think our general attitude towards mental health needs serious work. People don’t appear to understand or accept the problem as real and worthwhile. It’s all ‘they’re doing it to themselves – bugger them’ – which is sad to see.

Violet68 9:43 am 29 Jul 11

Ben_Dover said :

Violet68 said :

If only they would just keep these ill people in hospital until they are actually well.

Yes, somebody else can look after them, and the taxpayer can pick up the expense, and once they are well, they can go back to their hydroponic cannabis growing and their taking drugs in clubs, and become “mentally ill” again, then the whole sorry tale can start over again, with everybody else being to blame of course.

Family already wear 90% of the caring role. I pay my tax as does my family member when he is able to work. An entire mental health system has been set up for reasons beyond your narrow view. As a taxpayer, I expect it to work and I expect promises of “no wrong door” policies to be fulfilled. If you don’t want a mental health system in place, write to the Minister. While you are at it, inform her of your opinions on comorbidity and your ability to diagnose primary issues. I’m sure she will appreciate your expertise in this area.

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