"Patient care on the ward"

(as a relative),

Approximately Nov 2003 my husband had a knee operation which resulted with him spending time in recovery on the ward. Prior to the op. he was treated very well. He was fully informed of the after care he would receive whilst in recovery on the ward and what he was expected to do to help himself. Everything went well during the operation and he awoke on the ward as he had expected.

It was late evening when he woke up from his op., he was shown his call button and shown how to use his morphine pump (he was to administer this himself when needed).

I visited him the next morning, as soon as permitted. I found my husband writhing in pain and his bed soaked in perspiration. His call alarm was sounding in the corridor just outside the ward and his morphine pump was also bleeping a loud alarm sound.

He appealed to me for help and explained that he had been up all through the night in agony with both alarm noises going off causing disturbance to others on the ward. He went on to say that no-one had seen him, not only through the night, but also that morning.

I searched for a nurse. This took some time, I also felt that I was being a nuisance but was driven by my husbands' distress. Eventually a very kind nurse responded (fresh on the shift) and when told his story, took pity on him, bypassed the morphine machine and gave him an injection. She did not seem happy and sympathised with his distress. My husband quickly fell asleep and was able to rest and catch up on his missed sleep. I returned to work.

On my return to the ward later the same day, I found not only my husband, but also the other men on the ward in need of relief. (They all needed a toilet facility but were unable to move from their beds.) Most had pressed their call buttons with no response for some considerable time, (again the sound of call alarms going off in the corridor just outside the ward). I was compelled to search for staff but without luck. This time I came to a room with urine jars on the side. I took these and distributed them around the ward much to the relief of the men and my husband. I did not realise that this would turn out to be a regular event, that was to result in all of the ward looking forward to my visits.

On closer inspection of my husband, I noticed blood on his sheets. He explained that when he was woken up by his increasing pain later that morning, he managed to persuade a nurse that his morphine machine was not working. They had taken his morphine drip out, passing it across his body, pouring his blood along the way across his chest and bedding and transferred it to his other arm. They made no efforts to clear this trail of blood.

In short, my husband was left in this bedding for close to a week. They eventually gave him a machine that worked. I ended up swapping his sheets around him transferring top to bottom and vice versa just to help freshen him up and remove the 'crime scene', or should I say 'grime scene'. I washed him and refreshed him taking him drinks and toileting bottles as often as I could, not forgetting to assist others on the same ward.

This experience distressed my husband and me. I found some Bank Staff did not understand much of what I was saying but chose to ignore all of us. I also felt on most occasions that some of these staff did not care what was being said, because they would walk off shrugging their shoulders and not return or respond. Nurses were often not in sight and difficult to find. Alarms were on most of the time and unanswered. I was almost in denial with this whilst visiting, believing it was only temporary. In hind sight we have often reflected and realised the horror of this story. What happened to safety, dignity and respect? What happened to common sense?

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