"Experience of care for atrial fibrillation"

About: Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital / Cardiology

(as the patient),

In early June 2013 I awoke at about 0130 with atrial fibrillation (AF). My heart rate was averaging 189 beats per minute and was very irregular. I had never before experienced AF.

We rang the NHS help line to see what they suggested. Given the fact that I am 61 yrs of age, we were told to get me to A&E asap. After arriving at the N&N I was assessed by a nurse and attached to a monitor. The AF continued at its mad, irregular pace.

I didn't see a medic for over 3 hours. During that time, I was aware that I was a candidate for 1) a full-blown heart attack or 2) a stroke, as blood would be collecting in the lower chambers. No attempt was made to restore normal sinus rhythm (NSR). As my mother had suffered a debilitating stroke, my wife and I were concerned that I might go the same way.

The medic I saw after about 3. 5 hours, just made a cursory visit and then disappeared. I was sent to the cardiac ward, where I didn't see a specialist until 1030 that morning.

It seemed to my wife and me that the 'care' was based upon: get well or die. In either case, it wouldn't require intervention from a doctor. My heart eventually returned to NSR and I was released.

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Response from Janice Bradfield, Senior Communications and Membership Manager, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

We are sorry that it took so long for you to see a doctor when you came to hospital. Thank you for giving us a detailed account of your care and we will pass on your feedback to the A&E team.

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