The NSW Health Care Complaints Commission in action 5

One of our readers claims that, many years ago, he made a complaint to the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission about the clinical care and treatment he’d received from Dr Kerrie Meades, Ophthalmologist, after an Optometrist, Paul McCarthy, had referred him to her for help with the double vision he was experiencing and which was getting worse – his compliant was that he’d spent 3 or 4 hours in Meades’ rooms seeing her, one of her colleagues, Dr Jennifer Sandbach, and various orthoptists, at a cost of hundreds of dollars – and had learnt nothing. It had been a complete waste of his time and money.

For him, his double vision had got to the point where he was a danger to himself and others when he was driving a car, and that if he’d been forced to give up driving his car, it would have been a disaster! And that what particularly concerned him, made him SO angry, was that Meades could have told him about something which solved the practical problems of double vision in the first 5 minutes of seeing her – prisms in his glasses. But this wasn’t mentioned by either Meades or any of her people during the 3 or 4 hours he spent in her rooms. Meades was too busy telling him that the causes of double vision could  be “extremely serious,” and required “extensive investigation,” and trying to talk him into having an operation on his cataracts – this, when, it doesn’t seem that cataracts have anything to do with double vision, and that another Ophthalmologist told him ten years later that he still didn’t need an operation on his cataracts!!! Our reader says that a serious consequence of the negligence of Meades and her people was that he spent many extra months being a danger to himself and others when driving his car, unnecessarily.

An aspect to this, which is a real mystery, is why Paul McCarthy hadn’t mentioned to our reader  how prisms in glasses solved the practical problems of double vision??? You’d think that there was no possible way he wouldn’t have known about them? What could possibly have been the reason for him not mentioning them? Why wouldn’t he have offered to make our reader a pair of glasses with prisms in them? – in which case he would have arrived at Meades’ rooms not experiencing any of the practical problems of double vision. (To be fair, one thing our reader says he is grateful to McCarthy for, is that he was the first one to make him aware of the fact that developing double vision was what was wrong with his eyes – he hadn’t realised this.)

Our reader says that, when, after he’d given up on Meades and her people, he saw another Ophthalmologist, Dr Ross Fitzsimons, who solved all his problems in a brief consultation that cost less than $150 dollars – compared with the hundreds of dollars he’d spent on Meades and her people. After having our reader provide him with a brief history of his double vision, Dr Fitzsimons told him that it was incredibly unlikely that it was due to anything serious, but that if he wanted to make sure, he could have an MRI of his brain – which he did, and it was clear. And Dr Fitzsimmons was the first one to make him aware of prisms in his glasses – he’d never heard of them before, and when he got them, it was almost like a miracle – as though he was in his 40s and 50s again, with no double vision.

So readers, get the picture?

Our reader had consulted an Optometrist, Paul McCarthy, because he was having trouble with his eyes, McCarthy had told him it was because he was starting to have double vision, but hadn’t told him that prisms in his glasses would solve the practical problems he was experiencing, didn’t offer to make him a pair of glasses with prisms in them, when you would have thought he was in the business or providing such glasses, goodness knows why, although we have our suspicions. He had just referred him on to Dr Meades, goodness knows why, although again we have our suspicions. And seeing Meades and her people for 3 or 4 hours, at a cost of hundreds of dollars, had turned out to be a complete waste of time and money. She and her people were obviously just set on making as much money out of him as they possibly could. When he eventually saw Dr Fitzsimons, he solved all his problems so quickly and cheaply. How different his life would have been if Dr Fitzsimons had been the first one he’d seen.

On the basis of the above, our reader thought he’d make a complaint about the clinical care and treatment  he’d received from Dr Meades to Commissioner Dawson and her people at the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission, even though, from past experiences he anticipated that it would be a complete waste of his time – that they, particularly Dawson herself, would turn out, again, to be completely and utterly useless. AND the outcome was far worse than he could have imagined!!!

We believe that the first thing Dawson and her people should do with complaints is to send the health care worker being complained about a copy of the complaint, asking for his or her comments, that this should be the starting point in dealing with them. Amongst other things it would make the health care worker less likely to tell lies. Our reader says that if this had been done with his complaint about the clinical care and treatment he’d received from Meades, he’s sure he could have picked it to pieces, because she told lie after lie after lie.

Here are just three of them.

(1) Meades claimed that our reader had been a “difficult patient to treat” in that he had refused to have an operation on his cataracts, as “was clinically indicated.” Meades could have been asked for a copy of anything that might substantiate this claim, (it’s incredibly unlikely that there was anything, as, amongst other things, our reader says another Ophthalmologist told him ten years later he said that he still didn’t need an operation on his cataracts,) But of course, this didn’t happen, and Meades would have known that this wouldn’t happen, that it never does, otherwise she wouldn’t have made this allegation. (No doubt there had been other complaints about her, and she would have learnt this from how they’d been dealt with.)

(Readers, don’t you think it’s outrageous that people like Meades can get away with lies like this? – which they obviously do, over and over again.)

(2) Meades claimed that Dr Sandbach had sent our reader for an MRI – which was another blatant lie. Again she would have known that Dawson and her people wouldn’t ask for anything that might substantiate this claim, otherwise she wouldn’t have made it – which they didn’t, they never do. Of course, Meades wouldn’t have wanted our reader to have an MRI, as it would have indicated that there was nothing wrong with him, as was what happened when another Ophthalmologist, recommended that he have one done – it would have undermined her claim that double vision could have “extremely serious causes,” which required “extensive investigation,” and she would have missed out on fees for allegedly carrying out these investigations.

(3) And it was the same with another lie, that Sandbach had sent our reader for blood tests.

Typically, the ultimate outcome of our reader’s complaint was that Dawson herself, told our reader, that he had nothing to complain about – which is what she and her people tell 98%, perhaps even 99%, of the people who lodge complaints about NSW health care workers. Typically, she and her people don’t even bother to try to explain WHY they have nothing to complain about – just flatly that they have nothing to complain about. Our reader says he had included in his complaint how different his experience had been with Dr Fitzsimons, thinking it would perhaps be seen as highlighting how poor Meades’ performance had been. But no, even after he’d asked for a review of the initial dismissal of his complaint, Dawson herself wrote:-

“The review has confirmed previous advice that there is no evidence of any significant departures that would be likely to lead to disciplinary action against Dr Meades. Two doctors having different opinions or action plans about a patient does not necessarily mean that either practitioner’s conduct is unreasonable.

So Meades’ clinical care and treatment hadn’t been unreasonable!!!


(We could provide readers with a copy of Dawson’s letter – if they were interested. Email us.)

No wonder, as we keep saying, NSW doctors aren’t concerned in the slightest that any of their patients might complain about them to the HCCC – even the Dr Meades, who provide such poor clinical care and treatment, who appear to be only interested in making money. One of our readers reports that, after he’d had horrific experiences with one doctor, and was complaining to him – that the doctor taunted him, saying to him, “You know that you have nothing to complain about, otherwise you’d be making a complaint to the HCCC” – the doctor knowing that if he did make a complaint to the HCC, it wouldn’t get him anywhere, it would just be dismissed.

Readers, we’re talking about the health and welfare, even the lives, of the people of New South Wales here.

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