The Canberra Hospital is trialing a program where family and friends can call intensive care and emergency department staff themselves if they think a patient is dying.

The Canberra Hospital is trialing a program where family and friends can call intensive care and emergency department staff themselves if they think a patient is dying. Photo: Joseph Fell

CANBERRA Hospital is trialling a program whereby family and friends can call intensive care and emergency department staff themselves if they think a patient is dying, ACT Health has confirmed.

Brochures given to patients in one ward tell people to use a direct line to call highly specialised medical emergency staff if they are not satisfied with the treatment.

The son of a dying man in Canberra Hospital who said he had to contact intensive care unit staff himself said he was furious. ''Why should I be the one who has to ring?'' said Anthony Pesec, only one of five people to use the number so far.

The Canberra Hospital is trialing a program where family and friends can call intensive care and emergency department staff themselves if they think a patient is dying.

The Canberra Hospital is trialing a program where family and friends can call intensive care and emergency department staff themselves if they think a patient is dying.

''I told four doctors about his deteriorating condition before I was forced to make this call.''

Notes show Mr Pesec told a nurse he felt his father was going to die in 24 hours and that ''no one is taking me seriously''.

Documents show his father Josip was admitted to intensive care soon after the call was made.

An ACT Health spokeswoman said the trial was among the first of its kind in Australia.

''The theory behind the program is that the family knows the patient well and may recognise subtle deterioration signs earlier than clinical staff,'' the spokeswoman said.

The so-called CARE calls are answered by a person who contacts the medical emergency team, usually made up of staff from the intensive care unit or emergency department.

The three-month trial, which started in one ward in March, is still going in that ward.

Mr Pesec said the need for him to call intensive care was just one stressful experience in his family's drawn-out ordeal at the hospital.

The 81-year-old Josip Pesec, who eventually died in hospital, began his latest stay with a wait of between 26 and 28 hours in the emergency department, including 12 hours on a bed in the department's corridor, according to records.

They also show he had been discharged from hospital just a few days before his day-long emergency wait.

An ACT Health spokeswoman said the hospital rejected the son's allegation the patient was discharged prematurely, saying there had been discussions with the family.

''He returned to hospital in the days following the discharge as he was not able to manage well at home,'' the spokeswoman said.

She said records showed the actions by staff were consistent with the wishes of both the patient and the family.