Tammy Hams - lying in agony on hospital floor
By Richard Noone
January 30, 2009 12:00am
TAMMY Hams thought she was "going to die" when she was offered a blanket and told to lie on a waiting room floor because staff at her local hospital could not find her a bed.
Ms Hams was booked in for surgery at Wyong Hospital to remove possible cancerous lesions when doctors discovered a huge abscess causing "agonising pain".
The 29-year-old said she spent 3½ hours writhing in agony on the waiting room floor of the hospital's surgical ward on Wednesday before she was eventually given a bed.
Staff at the hospital "categorically deny" her claims.
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The incident comes amid yet another hospital outrage, in which a 24-year-old man was discharged from Griffith Hospital early on Monday after complaining of sinus pain.
The following day he again presented to the hospital and was flown immediately to Sydney's St Vincent's where he died from unknown causes.
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Greater Southern Health has launched an investigation into why he was discharged.
And in Dubbo, doctors are threatening to quit because they routinely run out of basic medications.
Ms Hams said her GP had been trying to get her into hospital since Friday when she began feeling stabbing pains in her stomach.
A biopsy four months ago revealed pre-cancerous lesions on her cervix, which if left would turn cancerous.
"I thought I was going to die," Ms Hams told The Daily Telegraph yesterday from her hospital bed.
"I have never been in that much pain in my life - it was agony."
She was booked-in for a hysterectomy and told to arrive at 9am.
Her mother Jenny Leatham said she was "crying and doubled-over in pain" and could not sit on the waiting room chairs or stand, so they pleaded for a bed.
"They gave her a blanket and said the best she could do was lie on the floor," Mr Leatham said.
"The staff were so nice and you could see they were upset about what was happening. This is just unfair, I'm not rubbishing the staff. There just wasn't enough beds.
"The system has to change."
A North Sydney Central Coast Health spokeswoman said an investigation found there was no shortage of beds and Ms Hams was "treated in a caring and timely manner".
"It is unacceptable for a patient to be expected to lie on the floor and staff on duty when Ms Hams arrived at the hospital deny making any such recommendation," the spokeswoman said.
The hospital argues she was assessed by an anaesthetist at 10.10am and that she asked for the blanket.
Mrs Leatham said by 12.30pm staff found her daughter a bed and she was operated on at 2pm.
When surgeons cut her open they discovered a huge abscess pushing on her cervix.
Unable to perform the hysterectomy they removed as much of the infection as they could and inserted a tube to drain it over the next seven to 10 days.
"If the abscess had burst while she was in the waiting room she would have died," Mrs Leatham said.
Wyong Hospital is just one of the state's many hospitals plagued with debt, bed shortages and a lack of specialist doctors.
Last week its emergency department - one of the busiest in the state - lost all but one of its specialist doctors to Gosford Hospital so it could retain its status as a teaching hospital.
Senior doctors at Dubbo Base Hospital threatened to walk off the job after they ran out of morphine because the hospital could not afford to pay pharmaceutical companies.
Patients in intensive care also sweltered for days in record temperatures because contractors could not be paid to fix the air conditioning.
The Greater Western Area Health Service reportedly owes more than $23 million to suppliers.
Many are no longer prepared to provide food or medical equipment.
The situation across the state is expected to get far worse before it gets any better.
A report by auditing firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers last month revealed the state's health budget would blow out by as much as $900 million by March if dramatic changes were not made.
Source: The Daily Telegraph