"Poor attitude, inaccurate information and compromised care"

About: Western Infirmary/Gartnavel General / General Surgery

(as the patient),

I had a bilateral adrenalecotomy and a cholestectomy recently, at Gartnavel. Before the operation, I was experiencing terrible back pain and heart palpitations, which doctors attributed to the gallbladder pain I was experiencing. Following the operation, the pain in my back got worse and was traveling down into my buttock and leg.

The heart palpitations were also getting more frequent and I started to have hot flashes; sweating profusely, at least 3 times a day. In the last few weeks, I have also needed to urinate more frequently. I also had bloods recently which showed elevated levels of ALT, although I believe this is quite normal following a cholestectomy. Incidentally these had normalised following bloods a week later.

With these symptoms getting worse, I contacted my endocrinologist and he referred me to the doctor. I received a call from his secretary, confirming my appointment in the same month. Prior to the appointment, the nurses at the Western Infirmary repeated the bloods done before at my request so that there were recent bloods to discuss at the appointment.

I explained my symptoms to the doctor and was assured that they were because I had very recently had major surgery. The doctor assured me that gastric and cardiovascular problems were not related and that the pain was probably due to the coagulation of blood where my adrenal glands had been removed. The doctor asked me if I had been to my GP and asked me what analgesia I was currently taking. I said that I hadn't been to my GP because I didn't know who to go to about it. I explained that my endocrinologist at the Western Infirmary was titrating my hydro/fludrocortisone dose, that I had just had surgery and that there were too many moving parts and I was unsure as to where it was I needed to go to speak to someone who had an understanding of all the constituents parts.

The doctor then examined my wounds and confirmed that they were healing well. When we sat back down, I asked what I could do about these symptoms and the doctor said pain relief. I asked about the other symptoms, namely the palpitations and the sweating and inquired as to whether or not the tramadol and clexane were causing it as I also have an overactive thyroid. The doctor assured me that these would cause no interactions and all of these symptoms were attributable to the surgery that I had and that I shouldn't worry about it. I became quite teary and said that I really didn't think these were all attributable to surgery as I had been experiencing all of them, apart from the profuse sweating, to a lesser extent before the surgery.

At this point, the doctor became quite confrontational and said that I was a 'highly anxious person' and this is what was causing these symptoms and I was just making them worse. I retorted that I wasn't a high anxious person and began trying to explain why I wasn't normally but the doctor interjected that yes, I was a highly anxious person and they had seen it when we had meet before. The doctor then said 'I don't come to your work and tell you how to do your job'. I said that I wasn't telling the doctor how to do their job. I also said that if someone came to my work and offered an opinion, I would have a dialogue with them about it rather than being so rude. I was very teary by this point and he said 'I mean, you are anxious, look at you'. I suggested that it would be better if I leave and I gathered up my belongings and left. The doctor was still talking offensively as I left and I said on leaving that the conversation had been entirely one-sided.

If the doctor I saw did come to my work, they could be assured that they would be treated with courtesy and respect. The doctor would be given factual and accurate information. If the doctor wanted to offer an opinion or challenge someone's viewpoint, they would be listened to and if it was incorrect, someone would explain why and work with them towards getting the right answer.

The doctor would not be offended and no-one would create an anxious situation that made them feel uncomfortable or upset. However, when I saw the doctor in their working environment, what was offered to me was the extreme opposite of the experience the doctor would have in my workplace.

The doctor was inaccurate, dismissive, rude and judgmental. The doctor attributed my symptoms to being a 'highly anxious person' but used that term offensively to diminish me. Anxiety is a very serious condition, which can indeed cause very serious symptoms. I doubt the way to treat people with anxiety is to show no empathy, offend the person and be calling out your final parting shots as they are leaving your office. I would probably wager that it's not particularly good either for an individual with no adrenal glands, who is still trying to establish their replacement dose, to be put in situation as stressful as this morning turned out to be.

I have been under the care of many doctors, over the years, for Cushings, and there have been mishaps and mistakes. However, at no point in the last nine years have I felt so strongly about an aspect of my care that I have felt the need to complain, until now. The clinical information that the doctor gave me was not accurate. The doctor was rude in the extreme; personally offensive, confrontational and discriminatory.

I now do not know what to do or where to go to get the medical care I believe I need and should be entitled to. If the doctor in question did come to my work, with the attitude they displayed at my appointment, they wouldn't get past the front door.

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Responses

Response from Lorna Gray, Patient Experience, Public Involvement Project Manager, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde

Dear Kikicee,

Thank you for taking the time and effort to share with us in detail your history of experiences with the NHS. May I say how sorry I am to hear of the most upsetting experience you have had recently. Please be assured that this does not reflect how NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde wants any patient to feel after attending our services.

There is a lot of detail in your post and it would really help me in taking this forward if you would contact me directly on lorna.gray@ggc.scot.nhs.uk. I hope to hear from you soon.

Kind Regards,

Lorna

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Response from Lorna Gray, Patient Experience, Public Involvement Project Manager, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde

Dear Kikicee,

I just wanted to provide a quick update and to thank you for taking the time to get back to me directly with more information. On looking into this, I understand that your comments have been taken on board through our official complaints process and that you have had further conversations with our complaints team. I hope this has provided you with some resolution and would like to reiterate how sorry I am for the upsetting experience you had.

I would also like to reassure you that NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde takes all experiences of poor care very seriously and is committed to learning from these to continually improve services. It is therefore important that our patients feel able to share their experiences as you have done, so thank you again for getting in touch.

Best Wishes,

Lorna

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Update posted by Kikicee (the patient)

Hi,

I received a letter in response to my complaint. I think the response I received was wholly unsatisfactory, bordered on the offensive - saying at one point they were sorry if this was my perception. It wasn't my perception: I think the doctor in question was rude, aggressive and offensive. The reply I received by letter, I think totally flies in the face of everything you have said here and the reply I got makes me think that patients can be spoken to with utter disdain without consequence.

I will be taking the matter to the ombudsman.