Kenepuru hospital complaints on the rise

22:47, Apr 28 2014

Kenepuru Hospital's Accident & Medical clinic received 23 formal complaints last year, twice as many as five years ago.

The figures were released under the Official Information Act.

We sought the figures after our story "Mothers outraged at hospital errors", appeared last July.

The complaints for last year were divided into the different sectors of the hospital.

Five of the 23 complaints related to the wards, one to the theatre and 17 to the Accident & Medical clinic.

In 2012, Kenepuru Hospital received 22 complaints, 20 in 2011, 18 in 2010 and 11 in 2009.


The district health board's chief operating officer, Chris Lowry, said every complaint was taken seriously.

Patient feedback led to improvements in services, he said.

"It should be noted that we receive more compliments than complaints. There are, on average, 35,000 attendances to the A&M clinic per year, and these complaints represent between 0.03 and 0.05 per cent of those attendances," he said.

Lowry said complaints about the Accident & Medical clinic could arise because patients and family members often confused the service with that of an emergency department, rather than an after- hours GP service.

"We are confident our complaints process is robust and addresses issues raised."

The first ward complaint last year was in March, by someone complaining about their mother's treatment by a consultant.

According to the letter, the consultant told the complainant's mother he had bad news before he examined her.

During this time he had a "negative" attitude that "did not improve".

The second complaint, in August, was written on behalf of someone who was transferred from Wellington Hospital to Kenepuru and concerned "a number of events that were alarming".

During the complainant's stay, she said a doctor prescribed an antibiotic she was allergic to and a nurse administered an overdose of Digoxin.

The "most concerning mistake" was when the complainant was discharged.

A pharmacist was unable to supply medication because the prescription read "eight tablets twice daily" - it should have read "one tab twice a day".

A complaint in September wrote about the care of her mother, who was transferred from Wellington Hospital to Kenepuru.

The letter read: "I found my mother cold, uncovered, distressed at most visits . . . her care was shocking."

She suffered from a hearing impairment and there was no card to say this was the case.

"Her entire stay was a disaster. Couldn't wait to get her out of there."

The oldest son of a man who was diagnosed with an unusual but treatable form of arthritis made the fourth complaint, in November.

It addressed the "totally unacceptable treatment and lack of communication surrounding my father's condition".

He took his father for tests. Immediately after the tests, that staff member went on holiday and the family had to await his/her return before the doctor could receive the results.

During that time, the complainant wrote that his father's health was declining. "I believe he is slowly dying because he cannot eat and he is being left to languish because of inaction."

His father's doctor agreed with the son and said he was "getting worse and the situation is not acceptable".

The last complaint was in November. The complainant said the patient received his discharge plan, which included a pneumococcal vaccination.

The problem was the vaccine was not funded and the patient was in no position to pay for it.

The complainant believed the vaccination should have been administered before he was discharged.

Lowry would not discuss individual cases. Our query about disciplinary measures for staff who made mistakes was not answered.


In 2012, there were 22 complaints - seven about the wards, one about the obstetrics unit and 14 about the accident and medical clinic.

In 2011, there were 20 complaints - eight about the wards and 12 about the accident and medical clinic. In 2010, there were 18 complaints - two about the wards, three about the obstetrics unit, one about the theatre and 12 about the accident and medical clinic.

In 2009, there were 11 complaints - five about the wards, one about the obstetrics unit and five about the accident and medical clinic.

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