Friday, February 17, 2006

Health Warning

Triple humour by-pass alert. Our local hospital made the news about a year and a half ago when a nurse was put away for a five stretch after being found guilty of deliberately killing some old people. Since then there have been several attempts by the local press to find evidence of further malpractice, either clinical or commercial. Apart from the constant letters about them wanting to rip absolutely everybody off with car parking charges, including disabled patients and staff, the best efforts of Her Majesty's Regional Press have yielded nothing bar unsubstantiated rumour. Then in January the findings of an independent inquiry into healthcare of the elderly at the hospital were published. The Trust says they have already started remedial work to eradicate this problem. Bollocks they have.

I am now pondering whether to feed the greasy hacks the details of the extremely true and shocking events witnessed by 5 inmates of ward 12 last Tuesday night, because my faith in the professionalism of the care staff has been sorely tested. As my regular reader may be aware, the beloved has been a resident of the Leighton house of pain these last few days, until yesterday when she was transferred to another one several leagues from here. She couldn't wait, largely because she has specialist medical requirements that can't be met locally and she was terrified that she was sooner or later going to get into a serious tiff with someone who knew nothing about her condition or her care regime.

The perky old lady in the bed opposite to Sharon suffered from very severe angina and apparently needed a device through which a constant supply of medication was delivered on demand. I didn't see this apparatus but I gather it's like some kind of inhaler. Now this wasn't some helpless old biddy flat out on her back in a morphine induced delirium, she was, given her condition, an alert and very normal pensioner who knew exactly what her condition entailed and what medication was required, because, exactly like Sharon does, she looked after herself at home and self-medicated. On Tuesday evening/Wednesday morning the night sister demanded she put her equipment away, saying she didn't need it and that oxygen would be enough. She then locked the thing away in the bedside cabinet. The old lady (I'm sorry, I can't remember her name) protested saying she would have a heart attack if she didn't get regular hits of her drug but these protests were just brushed aside.

I'm pretty certain you can guess what happened next. Within minutes, the poor woman started to have a heart attack and was clearly in distress and calling for help. The lady in the next bed got up and went round to remonstrate with the nurse, demanding that she help immediately. She was basically told that the old lady was over-reacting to which hero patient over-reacted herself and yelled at her to get a doctor at once. Sharon was trying to calm the woman but her condition was worsening by the second. Eventually a doctor came and confirmed she had indeed had a heart attack. The last we heard was that she was in the coronary care ward and quite ill.

Why the hell don't medical staff believe patients? This may seem a bit sweeping but I've seen it so many times now. We once had a GP who, even after she'd spent two nights in A & E and could barely walk, with blue feet and violent sickness, told Sharon her general signs were improving. Two weeks later she was having her bowel removed. Later he refused her an angiogram; her consultant insisted and it was found that she has barely 30% circulation in her legs and is now registered disabled. We later found out from a local pharmacist that the GP was in charge of the practice budget. During Sharon's stay I had a set-to with another sister regarding her treatment because everyone else was being fed yet Sharon, who can only take fluids intravenously, had not been administered fluid for 26 hours, despite having been canulated for several hours. I was told saline had to be prescribed by a doctor to which I replied I would go home and get one of the 20 1 litre bags sitting on top of my fridge at home and administer it myself, as it was her right to be able to drink. I went down to the shop for something and when I got back 5 minutes later she was on a drip. The sister then had the audacity to come round and tell us that her blood test had shown she wasn't dehydrated as I'd asserted. I could only re-iterate that she ought to try going without a drink for 26 hours herself and see how she felt and that Sharon was the best judge of whether she was thirsty or not. Then I'm made to feel that I'm in the wrong for over-reacting because this is something we deal with constantly and easily at home. I am vexed for this isn't the NHS as I know it - shit scared to move for fear of ambulance chasers (an export of the United of States that surely does justify some kind of violent payback) and patients being treated ever more like product on a line. Another blog...

Patients are indeed the best monitors of their condition. Being admitted to hospital doesn't involve a total lobotomy the moment you walk through the doors. The NHS are putting aside a billion pound fund to cater for malpractice suits. Looks like it could get used up in South Cheshire.

2 Vegetable peelings:

Blogger Tennessee Jed said...

Doctors and nurses get so much education that sometimes they think everyone else is daft...I guess. I think they get a few who are over worried. So they think that all folks are that way. A bit like a few terrorist can work the fear that all people are to be suspect.

1:44 am  
Blogger St Jude said...

It's much the same everywhere now. When my father was in hospital, after a stroke, they left him sitting in a chair for over 16 hours. Result DVT, which caused a Pulmonary Embollism. A two week stint in hospital became six weeks.

When we tried to make a complaint, we were advised they could, if they wanted, ban us from visiting my father.

4:21 pm  

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