The last thing on Bill's mind when had a skiing accident, was surviving the treatment


A man we will call 'Bill' booked a weekend on Mount Hotham, Australia in July.

Bill was a tall and solidly built man, in his mid fifties. He was looking forward to a skiing weekend with his family.

Bill was a builder who ran his own business. He spent a lot of his time dealing with contractors, paperwork and government regulations.

Getting away to the snow with his family was something he looked forward to. Bill had enjoyed the sport as younger man and liked to return to the ski mountains every year. He booked into a resort with his wife and teenage children.

Unfortunately, Bill was no longer as fit as he had been in his youth.

On his first day in the slops, Bill skied continuously. He wanted a break from stress at work.




There were more people on the slope than he expected, but Bill kept skiing, feeling great about being out in the cold air and snow, away from work.

In the afternoon he suddenly lost control and toppled over. He knew straight away his left leg was broken. He cursed, sat up, looked around to find someone who could see him, and flagged them down.

Other skiers called the Ski Patrol, who came to his aid. They assessed his leg, told him it was probably broken, put it in a splint, then transported him back to the village on a toboggan.

From there his wife put him in the car and drove him back to a Hospital in Melbourne.


“I told you to stop skiing and take a break” his wife said in the car.


An x ray showed a broken tibia, the front bone in his lower leg. Surgery was required. Bill was admitted to the hospital for treatment.



Every evening the Doctors told Bill he was ‘on the theatre list’ for the next day.


He would be fasted from midnight then wait for the call that never came. There were constant cancellations, delays and change of plans.

His leg was bandaged, but pain was continuous, and numbed only by pain relief medication that made him both sleepy and constipated.

On the fourth day Bill was finally taken to theatre.

‘This is it at last’ he thought.

Bill had a general anaesthetic and woke up in recovery.

Only to find the operation had not taken place.

Theatre had been ‘too busy’ to do the operation, so they sent him straight to recovery.

When his wife heard about the cancelled operation, after theatre being re-booked four days in a row, she was furious.


“Why hasn’t my husband gone to theatre! He’s got a broken leg for goodness sake. Isn’t that what hospitals are meant to fix?"


Finally, on the fifth day after the accident, Bill went to surgery, had an anaesthetic and surgery, and recovered back on the ward. He wanted to go home straight away.




The doctors advised him to stay in hospital for several days after the operation, to make sure the wound healed, and to have intravenous antibiotics. Reluctantly he agreed.

Bill had been ringing contractors and trying to rebook jobs.

Getting back to work was now his main priority.

However his wife, already unhappy with his treatment delays kept a close eye on his leg.

She noticed his calf became swollen. When she touched it, it was hard and painful.

The wife rang a girlfriend who was a nurse and asked for her advice.


“Is he getting regular injections to thin his blood while he is in hospital?” her friend asked.


The wife did not know, so she ask her husbands nurse the next day. The nurse told her the drug was called Enoxaparin and the dose was 60mg. The wife instantly rang her girlfriend back on her mobile.

“That’s a small dose for such a big man,” said the wife’s friend.


“Your husband is over six foot, and probably weighs 120 kilos. When I’ve had patients your husband’s size, I’ve given them double that amount. Ask the doctor to review the dose. And also review his leg. He might have a deep vein thrombosis.


Bill’s wife relayed her concerned and asked for a medical review. She was told this was not necessary.

Bill was discharged two days post surgery and rushed back to work.

However his wife was concerned about the swelling on his calf and insisted he go to see their general Doctor.

The Doctor took one look at Bill’s leg, and ordered an ultrasound. It showed three large blood clots in his leg.



When Bill went back to his Doctor he was told he would need to go on a long course of a powerful blood thinning medication called Warfarin. He would need blood tests every month to check the drug levels in his blood.

Possible side effects included bleeding, including stroke.


After the drama of the cancelled theatre, Bill didn't want to hear another word about hospitals. The wife was furious but didn't know who to complain to.

One simple fracture that should have been quickly fixed, became a year long drama involving delays, time off work and long term medications.

© Wikihospitals 2014.


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