I brought my father, who is currently suffering from terminal cancer, to a Dublin hospital last Wednesday (3rd Sept) when he suffered severe vomiting during the night. After 14 hours in A&E, he was admitted to the hospital at 6am the following morning.
Between then and today, I had absolutely no word on what his condition is. I visit every day, but none of the nurses can tell me what exactly is wrong. I have left several phone messages, and messages with the nurses, for the doctor treating him. As of Thursday Sept 11th, none of these had been returned. I'd left my phone number, and the hospitl also had my contact details on record as his nearest next-of-kin.
My father is currently in a poor state; so weak he cannot leave his bed, and also having visual hallucinations. The only information I have gotten from him is that the doctors "want to put me in a home". I have no idea if this is something the doctor _actually_ said, since as mentioned they have not contacted me.
Today (Friday 12th) I ran out of patience after yet another promised phone call from from my father's doctors was not made. So I rang the official complaints department at the hospital and explained the situation.
Half an hour later, I received a phone call from a doctor. He mentioned several symptoms that my father was experiencing. I had to actually dig out of him (he didn't volunteer the information) the fact that my father's life expectancy had been cut from the previous estimate of 1 year minimum to a few weeks. When I stated that I was unhappy that it had taken them a week to inform his next of kin of this fact, considered he only had a few weeks left, the doctor said they had tried to contact me by phone but couldn't get through (I'll come back to this point). When I asked why they couldn't have left a message with the ward nurse for me to contact them, they didn't respond.
Now, I didn't believe his story, so I checked with my mobile provider. They confirmed - and were willing to confirm in writing - that there was no service problem during the week that would have left the hospital unable to contact me. At worst, if I was out of coverage, an unanswered call would have gone to my voice box as is normal.
That afternoon after visiting my father, I visited the complaints department in person and lodged a formal complaint, giving them all the above facts. I'll see what happens next. At the very least, hopefully they put a formal system in place so no other families have to do through situations like this.
Does anyone know what hospitals are currently obliged to do?