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Outpatient Clinic

Specific communication needs

Assistance with communication at outpatient clinic

Left uninformed

Support from a distance

 

 

 

 

Specific communication needs 

A woman with a hearing impairment had an outpatient appointment at her local hospital which she needed to postpone. Because of her hearing impairment she was unable to use a telephone. The appointment letter only supplied a phone number, so she looked in the phone book and used the hospital's multi-purpose fax number to notify them that she could not attend the appointment.

The woman wrote to the CEO pointing out that deaf people are disadvantaged by communication such as this. She received a letter from the outpatient department advising that they intended to include a fax number on all their appointment letters in the future, and advised her that if she experienced any similar communication difficulties in the future she should contact one of four named people. Unfortunately, only the phone numbers of the people had been provided.

The woman asked the advocacy service to contact the hospital to check that the fax number was operational, and to reiterate that phone numbers were of no use to someone who could not use a telephone.

The provider advised the multi-purpose fax was still operational, and that a further letter was being sent to the woman apologising for the error and advising that a systemic change would be made within the organisation ensuring that fax numbers would be included on all written information.

The woman received the letter from the provider and was happy with the outcome.

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Assistance with communication at outpatient clinic

Surgeon ~ Outpatient clinic ~ Communication

A consumer sought advocacy support for her next appointment at an outpatient clinic, as she felt the surgeon was not listening to her. She also wanted to discuss what the next step in her treatment would be as she had been unwell for eighteen months and still had no diagnosis.

The advocate assisted the consumer to document her symptoms so she was able to provide the information to the surgeon. At the appointment the consumer provided her notes to the doctor which he read, and he then listened to her concerns. The consumer thanked the advocate for supporting her and said she felt the presence of an advocate had made a difference to the doctor's communication.

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Left uninformed                                                         

A woman was referred by her GP to a specialist and received an appointment for her assessment.  A few days prior to her appointment she received a phone call to say that her appointment had been cancelled and that a new time would be sent to her in the mail.

Weeks passed and she heard nothing, apart from rumours and occasional newspaper reports about "trouble at the hospital".  Her health continued to deteriorate and she returned to her GP who suggested she contact an advocate.

She contacted the local advocate and having discussed the options made direct contact with the clinic. She was told that the specialist was not currently holding clinics due to some internal staffing issues. She was also told that if she needed to see someone urgently she would need a new referral from her GP to see someone outside the area.

The woman wanted to know why no one had contacted her to let her know about the situation as they had her contact details and she was expecting to hear from them. As a result of her comments, the service immediately advised others in the same position so they were informed of the situation and the options for assessment and treatment elsewhere.

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Support from a distance
A concerned son phoned the advocacy 0800 number to see if it was possible for an advocate to support his elderly mother who was going into hospital for an operation.  His mother had an appointment at the outpatients department to discuss the surgery and as the son did not live in the same city he could not support her. 

The local advocate met with the consumer and supported her at the outpatient appointment as well as subsequent appointments with the surgeon and anaesthetist.  On the day of the operation, the advocate was able to meet her in the hospital foyer and take her up to the ward where she had to report.

The consumer was extremely grateful for such support and said she couldn't believe such a wonderful service existed.

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