"Don't make hospital more stressful than it has to..."
About: Chelsea & Westminster Hospital Chelsea & Westminster Hospital London SW10 9NH
I had a flexible sigmoidoscopy yesterday. The information I had received in advance was generally accurate but it gave no indication that I needed to be accompanied to the appointment, so I didn't bring anyone (nor had I told anyone about it because I was embarrassed). I was very nervous and the nurse talking to me decided I needed sedation - I didn't ask for it, she decided I needed it, then found out I wasn't accompanied, and told me I couldn't have it. Raising the possibility that I needed something and then denying it made the whole experience more stressful. The doctor then came and did the same thing - he said he didn't want to do the procedure if I wasn't sedated but I couldn't have sedation without being accompanied. It was 5pm and he pointed out the unit closed at 6pm so I was put under pressure to try to find someone who could collect me at very short notice, which added more stress. Again, why didn't the information letter about the procedure recommend that patients should be accompanied? I was offered the chance to rearrange the appointment for another day but I'd already booked a day off work and really didn't want to try to convince my boss I should have another, not least because I would have had to explain what the procedure was which would have been very embarrassing. I also could not face the possibility of going through all this stress and distress again. In the end I begged the doctor to do the procedure without sedation to get it over with. I was extremely stressed and I really needn't have been - it was all generated by the incomplete information (no indication that I might need sedation and therefore should have been accompanied) and by the communications of the ward staff saying I needed sedation and couldn't have it. If I'd been managing this I would have recommended in the appointment letter that all patients who've not had the procedure before should be accompanied and said in the appointment letter that while 80% of patients don't need sedation, 20% do, and so that should be an option open on the day (stats from the doctor). I would then have established on the day whether a patient was accompanied; if they weren't, I would not have introduced the subject of and kept harping on about needing sedation which was clearly impossible. Surely it doesn't take a lot of thought to reduce the stress levels of a potentially stressful medical procedure? I coped Ok with the procedure but at the end I was just desperate to get out of the hospital and was shaking all the way home. I suspect I was in mild shock from the mental distress, rather than the physical.