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Nhs Hospitals - A Horror Story Close To Home


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On Saturday last Clair (the memsahib) was literally rushed into hospital having collapsed with searing pain in her lower abdomen that accelerated into crippling agony within an hour.

 

From her being admitted at noon last Saturday it took until Thursday PM for a diagnosis of strangulated massive ovarian cyst to be made. Up to that point she had been prodded and poked around, had a normal X-Ray, an ultrasound scan, an X-Ray using a contrast medium, and finally a CAT scan taken before a diagnosis was actually forthcoming. Yesterday she was operated upon and a 12 cm ovarian cyst was removed from one side and a 6 cm ovarian cyst removed from the other.

She is now recovering from the operation and also from the onset of peritonitis that developed in the period between her being admitted and the final operation being performed.

 

During the time between being admitted and the final diagnosis being made she received ‘pain relief’ that was singularly ineffective, and was also subjected to various procedures that caused tremendous pain in themselves as palpation of the area in which the pain was at its worst was frequently involved. By Wednesday PM she was actually experiencing real breathing difficulties directly as a result of any movement, including breathing, causing violent and agonising increase in the level of her pain. She was on occasions blacking-out from the pain.

 

The amazing thing to me was the time between a test being proposed and then the test actually being performed. Typically overnight, and then even worse a further overnight before the result of the test was considered by the person who had requested that the test should be undertaken.

 

As a result of me changing from simply being worried and making my concern for Clair obvious to becoming damned bloody furious and calling in our family solicitor to issue a letter advising of forthcoming prosecution, suddenly things moved into a higher gear and the CAT scan which revealed the basic cause of her problem was made and we got something actually done.

 

I have since learned that there is an internal budgetary process involved in the hospital and each test is charged to the patients pseudo - account. A CAT scan is the most expensive of the non-invasive non-pathological tests available for a clinician to request.

 

In the period up to that CAT scan a number of possible causes were postulated ranging from ‘a urinary tract infection or possibly severe cystitis – we’ll give you something and send you home’ on her forst foray to A & E through to ‘it may be a number of things that could include appendicitis or kidney stones or even fibroids’.

 

What I find mind-numbingly preposterous is that in spite of her condition quite obviously deteriorating and with the onset of further symptoms including the discharge of blood where it singularly shouldn’t have been, still it took draconian action on my part to get done what I would have thought should have been done even on day #1 - to conduct a CAT scan and start some real treatment.

 

The hospital involved has only recently been opened at a cost of dam near £300,000,000. There is little doubt that they have the best that money can buy and that they have a first class medical team, but as was explained to me the problem is one of process.

 

It is like having an orchestra of fine musicians but no conductor. Instead there is a regime that defines how things get done combined with strict and impenetrable demarcation between specialities and departments.

 

There is a process to get people to X-Ray, a process for the results to be checked by a radiographer, a process to get the results accessible to the doctor who requested the X-Ray, and the doctor has his own schedule of what he does and when including when he checks results of tests that he has requested – hence the hours or even days delay and in the meantime the patient is the one who suffers.

 

This is a situation that I am going to go ‘balls out’ to expose and make one hell of a row over. I watched my wife go through agonising pain simply because of the utter stupidity of a set of procedures that no doubt work very well for the internal functioning of an organisation but are working to the detriment of the very people who should be first in consideration – the patients.

 

The very fact that Clair spent 5 days literally in agony, was having breathing difficulties with the pain, and was visibly deteriorating is proof positive that there are major problems and the process is broken. And this isn’t a case of some typical ‘Frumma-Yiddle’* overstating and making a fuss. When you have lived with someone for 30 years you get to know what is real and what is being exaggerated a little.

 

I am not going to let this rest but that is a separate issue. What is important is to recognise that just because a large, complex, and frequently disjointed organisation with the emphasis on efficiency and the meeting of targets and statistics rather than the treatment and well being of people who are being processed it is vitally important not to be put off by officialdom and the ‘that’s how we do it’ syndrome. I had to resort to law to get people to ‘step outside of the box’ or I doubt if Claire would have yet been diagnosed even by now.

 

I don’t know how the new Island hospital is performing or if what I have described is not untypical of what takes place there but there’s an old Dutch proverb that translates to ‘A ship on the beach should be a warning to the rest’ or more simply, you may find yourself caught up in the same quagmire of process and bureaucracy there as well.

 

What did amaze me was when a staff nurse quietly told me that I shouldn’t feel bad or embarrassed about having made a fuss ‘cos they also felt frustrated at not being able to get done what they knew really should be.

 

Yesterday Clair was recovering from her ‘op. Now our worry is the possibility of a post operative infection which from what I have seen over the last week must be damm near a certainty.

 

To my cynical eye ‘Cleaning’ now means dusting and polishing rather than removal of filth. In place of aseptic process there seems to be a strategy of dosing up of patients with massive amounts of antibiotics to fight the inevitable infections that they would otherwise get.

 

Maybe it is cheaper to bolt the stable door by overwhelming the filth and dirt with antibiotics than the cost of doing a proper cleaning job and striving for aseptic conditions.

 

Those with experience in NHS hospitals --- any comments?

 

* Fruma –Yiddle – a Yiddish phrase to describe a typical ‘Bekkey-down-the-Lane’ woman, usually with a marked Polish accent, mostly to indicate a religious and orthodox person, but also one in possession of characteristics including, but by no means limited to, everything being either the best or the worst that it ever could be and typically every ache and pain much worse than anyone has ever had before or ever will in the future, and so forth.

 

Admittedly (grudgingly) Clair is like this in some ways, but pain is not one of them.

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rog I thank god i dont have much need of the hospital at this present time but my thoughts are with you both, what your wife has been through is a disgrace I hope she soon is well, take care both of you .

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A sorry tale. I hope things turn out fine for you both, and that your good lady makes a full recovery. Good luck with your pursuit of the guilty.

 

I don’t know how the new Island hospital is performing or if what I have described is not untypical of what takes place there but there’s an old Dutch proverb that translates to ‘A ship on the beach should be a warning to the rest’ or more simply, you may find yourself caught up in the same quagmire of process and bureaucracy there as well.
Sadly, I fear, we have already 'beached our ship'. There are plenty of horror stories going round about our new hospital, including an article in the local rag about the cases MRSA there (113 from memory)

 

As for

To my cynical eye ‘Cleaning’ now means dusting and polishing rather than removal of filth.

 

This reminded me of a 'cleaner' I used to know whose idea of cleaning was to walk in to a room, turn on the vacuum (not move it mind you) and talk to her friends.

 

One day, someone said to her "Showing you a duster, is like showing a vampire garlic". We saw even less of her after that!

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Yes,

 

best wishes to Claire and yourself. The pair of you have always 'taken care' of me when I have been under the weather and even when I haven't. ;) Take care now.

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Your story is terrible but not surprising to me, I have very little faith in the medical profession over here. I hope things turn out well for you.

 

I won't go into great detail but it took over 6 months for my son, who was 7 at the time, to be diagnosed with cancer. I was at one point called a paranoid, over sensitive mother whose child was basically looking for days off school. We were fobbed off with a silly diagnosis but I kept pushing because I knew my child was ill. He was eventually admitted into hospital and transferred to Alder Hey. That was just over 3 and a half years ago and thankfully now he's in remission :)

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What is important is to recognise that just because a large, complex, and frequently disjointed organisation with the emphasis on efficiency and the meeting of targets and statistics rather than the treatment and well being of people who are being processed

 

and that's exactly the way it seems to be now.

 

I hope everything turns out well for you both Rog.

 

Minnie, that's really good news that your son is in remission and well.

 

People shouldn't have to go to those extremes to get an accurate diagnosis , these are peoples lives their playing with.

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Yes I too would like to wish you well.

 

I would like to ask this question or two.

Have the medical staff at the new Hospital got a fear of facing legal action if they get the diagnossis wrong at the first attempt, which sometimes happen.

Cleaning staff at the hostpital are not allowed to disturb or move patients while cleaning, so how can they do a good job, Nursing staff wont do any cleaning as its not in their contracts, so how can they keep the wards clean. The only way would be to have spare wards, as one is given a full clean out they could then move the patients into the clean ward, this would have to be done daily, but cant be, so whats the answer.

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I know a lady who cleans at the hospital and those who know her at work say she is really lazy. Her own home is like a tip. She moved house two years ago and the local authority had to fumigate the place before they could re-let it. One solution would be for these in power to inspect the homes of people before they give them jobs as cleaners.

 

Bring back the office and power of the Matron!

 

I hope Clair gets well soon Rog, and it is pleasing to read that the little one is in remission.

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I think too many people have too much faith in doctors/hospitals and they need to hear about stories like these to realise that blunders and mistakes happen, and if they are not happy with what they've been told or the diagnosis that's been given then they should not be afraid to keep pushing until they are completely happy.

 

And I agree, the cleanliness and hygiene when we've been in hospital has left a lot to be desired. I had to ask for the sheets on my son's bed to be changed one time because they'd not put fresh ones on in a week. Don't know whether standards have changed much in the new hospital, luckily we've not had the pleasure of a stay there!

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Minnie & Roq - very glad to hear your dear ones are on the mend. :)

 

My experience of the hospital is limited to having a bit of metal removed from my eyeball a few months ago and whilst it was a very unpleasant & a bit scary thing, it was a bit of a mixed bag in terms of people dealt with.

 

The doctor who was jabbing my eye with a needle was a thoroughly miserable git and didn't appear to give the slightest sh1t that I was quite obviously scared (yes, big girl I know!). I was a little suprised that he kept whinging at me that "I can't help you if you don't open your eye you know!" because I was blinking occasionally as the needle was scratched against my cornea - hardly as if I was doing it on purpose to hinder him.

That said, the nurse that saw me afterwards was very pleasant & friendly.

 

Not any kind of big medical deal unlike the two other cases described on here but it just makes all the difference when people in those jobs speak to you as if they actually do care, and not like you're an inconvenience. It doesn't take much effort.

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