"Long period of nil by mouth for 4 year old"

About: Bristol Royal Hospital For Children

My 4 year old broke his arm early evening and after 5 hours of A & E was moved to a surgical ward. We were told he would not go to theatre that evening but that he should be nil by mouth (and have no fluid from the early hours) as he would be allocated a morning slot. Unfortunately it was another 26 hours from the time we arrived in A & E until he finally got a theatre slot. I am sympathetic to the fact that urgent cases must take priority but wonder if the system could be managed a little better so that a very young child does not have to go for such an incredibly long period nil by mouth. Not only was it distressing for him but also for the other 5 patients and their parents on the ward (and nearby wards) hearing his screams for food and drink throughout the day. He is too young to understand why he had to be starved for such a long period, in addition to being in pain and a strange environment. I would also think that in such a warm environment there is a risk of dehydration. A clearer communication system would enable decisions to be taken earlier on. For example, in his case staff later admitted that he should have been given food/drink in the morning (although this differed from the advice in his notes). This would have prevented a very traumatic stay in hospital. The medical team were clearly doing their best under what appear to be very stretched resources.

Story from NHS Choices

Do you have a similar story to tell? Tell your story & make a difference ››


Response from Bristol Royal Hospital For Children

Thank you for giving us feedback about your experience at the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children. We are very sorry that you experienced these delays - we know how much distress this can cause to children and their families, and we do try our best to avoid doing this. Where it does happen it is often due to unplanned emergency admissions as you have noted. Please be assured that we do monitor children to ensure that they are safe during periods of nil by mouth, although we know it is always a challenging time for children and families. We are concerned to hear that you were subsequently given conflicting information about when your child could have eaten. The nurses and doctors have received your feedback and are taking action to ensure that communication is clearer – if you would like us to look into this further, or to respond personally to any aspect of your experience, then please do not hesitate to contact our LIAISE team who will be happy to arrange this (0117 342 8065 or email bchinfo@uhbrisol.nhs.uk). Thank you again for your feedback.