"My husband's heart attack was ignored for 1hr 45..."

About: Fairfield General Hospital

Back in February, my husband had been complaining of backache, feeling sick, a central heart pain and pins and needles in his arms. Having recently had pleurisy, and because he was only 45 years old, we both assumed because of the back pain, this was pleurisy again. As the day went on, he began to feel worse and we eventually drove to A& E. When we got there, e triage nurse saw him straight away, because we explained we thought it was pleurisy, and he is a chronic asthmatic. The triage nurse on duty tolld us that his BP was a little elevated and that he was clearly hyperventilating, and that was why he had the pain in his back and the feeling of numbness in the arms. After about 10 minutes we were escorted to a cubicle. Where we waited. And waited. And waited. All the while my husband was having a heart attack. I kept peering out to see if someone was coming, at least to do some kind of chest exam, but nothing. It was 1hr 45 minutes later when a man complaining of chest pain, nausea, bilateral back pain, pains in the arms (you know all the obvious signs of a heart attack) finally saw a nurse, when the doctor saw me approach the desk. It took a further 1.5 hours to determine he'd had a heart attack. Once seen, the doctors were through, just a shame it took so long for them to get to him, as the heart was being damaged, the whole time he was being ignored. I strongly recommend that you google your symptoms and tell the admissions staff what's wrong with you, if you're going to get timely treatment in a crisis. When on the general ward, we had one gentleman who because of his condition repeatedly soiled the bed, which although the nurses dealt with it sympathetically, meant that everyone on the ward was subject to the incredibly strong smell of faeces and urine. I appreciate that there are limited beds available, but segregating this gentleman for his own dignity and the sake of other patients would have been nice. The next morning, my husband and I were absolutely horrified to hear the doctor on call coercing a frail old man, who had no next of kin to agree to having no heroic measures if his heart stopped again. The old chap was convinced for 15 minutes that if his heart had stopped anyway he was technically dead so she wouldn't want to be brought back, and what did he think. The poor old man kept saying well I don't know I haven't thought about it but she as relentless. We were absolutely horrified that this was happening, and that it is clearly common practice to convince those without next of kin, and someone to cause trouble for the hospital to be encouraged to die so that they're not a drain on resources. I am ashamed that I did not report this at the time and that it has taken me so long to address it, but I shall now write a letter to the hospital trust asking them about this policy. I would like to add that once admitted onto cardiology, the staff and service were exemplary. Just avoid A&E and beware if you've no next of kin.

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Responses

Response from Fairfield General Hospital

We are sorry to read your comment regarding your husbands visit to the Accident and Emergency department at Fairfield General Hospital. If you wish to discuss your concerns, please contact the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) on 0161 604 5897. We will also forward your comment to the department manager.

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