Hospital defends long wait for elderly man with deep facial wound

Mr Lolesio slipped onto a piece of gym equipment on Tuesday. (supplied)
Mr Lolesio slipped onto a piece of gym equipment on Tuesday. (supplied)

Warning: This article contains graphic images of a facial wound.

An Auckland hospital is defending its care of an elderly man with a bone-deep facial wound on Tuesday.

Seventy-nine-year-old Aupito Pupu Lolesio slipped onto a piece of equipment at a Manukau gym, cutting his left cheek so deep the bone was visible.

The family of Mr Lolesio, a cancer patient, claim he then had to wait five hours until he was seen by a doctor.

During that time his daughter, Noma Sio-Faiumu, says she had to nurse her father's bleeding wound on her own.

But Middlemore Emergency Department says while it understands the frustration, it had to prioritise other patients.

"For families it can be very stressful waiting. It's always hard for families and staff to match that. I can imagine that wound would have been very stressful for a family", Dr Vanessa Thornton says.

"Unfortunately some patients will wait and that's the nature of the business. Of course we would like to see everyone immediately."

Dr Thornton says in terms of getting the best outcome for the healing process the hospital decided to wait for the plastics team to repair his wound.

After hours of waiting, Mr Lolesio's wound started to gape open. (supplied)
After hours of waiting, Mr Lolesio's wound started to gape open. (supplied)

Dr Thornton says the hospital aims to get patients through the emergency ward within six hours, and usually succeeds.

"Our staff work very hard to achieve our target in one of the busiest emergency departments in Australasia. This can be particularly challenging when the emergency department is very busy as it has been this week with the onset of winter."

But Aupito Sua William Sio, Mangere MP and Mr Lolesio's son, calls it "pure luck" his father came out okay and says if his injuries had been more severe, they would have been missed.

"One would have thought that an x-ray would've been one of the first things to perform given a 79-year-old man had a fall with injury near his head, deep gash.

"His x-ray to his head was performed at about 9:30pm, almost ten hours after arrival at A&E, and we're fortunate he didn't have a concussion or a brain bleed as they didn't check this at all. When my sister pulled the doctor up about this she apologized."

Dr Thornton says the reason his injury was not considered more serious was because of the light impact.

"If you fell down from the top of house and landed on your head, then the head injury would be very serious, even though the laceration would be still considered minor."

"In terms of process we're happy", Dr Thornton says. "Of course we're not happy that they're upset, but we're happy the right process was taken."

Mr Lolesio's family are preparing to lay a formal complaint against the hospital.

"Whilst we appreciate they may have been busy with other patients, I don't expect that we lose our humanity and our sense of treating people with dignity, respect, love and proper care", Mr Sio says.

"No one should be treated this way, or forced to wait hours while bleeding from their face. At least have someone do a proper initial assessment and communicate properly to the family what they can expect and why the long waits."