"I felt so understood"

About: Royal Hallamshire Hospital / Respiratory medicine

(as the patient),

I had double pneumonia in March/April 2013, shortly after my 70th birthday. I had had some odd symptoms in the February, the most distressing being taste disturbance so all the food I normally like tasted disgusting. These symptoms had disappeared by the beginning of March, but at the end of the month I had a heavy cold and cough and began to run a high temperature. By the Easter weekend my temperature was fluctuating between very high and very low and I my sleep was disrupted by coughing. On Easter Monday we rang the out of hours GP service and the doctor suggested I tried steam to ease the cough/breathing problems. He asked if I felt I needed a doctor to visit, but I decided I would wait until the following day when my GPs surgery would be open.

My condition continued to worsen the next day and my husband went down to our GP surgery to ask for a doctor to visit. (We did not try the phone, as we know from experience that it is normally engaged). One of the practice doctors visited about two and a half hours later and fairly quickly realised I needed to be admitted to hospital. He was offered a bed in the Infectious Diseases unit at the Hallamshire and called an ambulance to take me there. The ambulance men arrived shortly afterwards and immediately hooked me up to a cylinder of oxygen. I can’t describe the relief of suddenly being able to breathe!

My hospital stay (of 13 days) was as good as it could have been. I had a single ensuite room and intensive medical and nursing care. I was diagnosed with pneumonia in both lungs and for most of my stay was on hydrated oxygen and a cocktail of intravenous anti-biotics. I also had a saline drip in the early stages. I had X-rays on admission and at 2 or 3 points during my stay to check whether my lungs were clearing.

The room was spacious, with a good sized shower/wash room and my husband and other family members were able to visit as often and for as long as they wanted.

I had daily visits from doctors and continuous nursing care and – in the latter part of my stay – had visits from a physiotherapist and dietician. I had enormous difficulty in beginning to eat again – tending to retch and vomit at every attempt – and found this very distressing. My husband brought various foods in for me to try and was allowed to sit with me as I struggled to eat. This was very comforting. The nursing and auxiliary staff were sympathetic, whilst trying to encourage me to eat. The dietician was particularly helpful.

In the early days of my stay in hospital I was really very ill and on one ward round I burst into tears and said I was frightened that I was going to die. The young doctor leading the ward round reassured me and later came back to see me – held me in his gaze and said, very firmly and clearly: “You are NOT going to die”. I don’t know if he had any idea just how helpful this was, but I felt so understood and was able to hear him saying it every time I felt particularly frail and vulnerable.

Obviously, some staff have more social skills than others, but I think everyone I came into contact with was working hard and doing their best. I felt that I was kept well informed about the nature of my condition and how I was progressing and was offered very clear advice about how to aid my own recovery after discharge and to be patient and not try to rush my convalescence.

I feel very grateful for the quality of care I received. My only real criticism was my follow up appointment. I had been asked to come early to have an X-ray and then waited around 2 hours to see a junior doctor, who didn’t seem to have seen my notes and wasn’t aware of the X-ray, although eventually she did get it up on her computer screen.

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Responses

Response from Deborah Hopkinson, Patient Experience Co-ordinator, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Thank you for your positive feedback regarding your experiences a few years ago. Your accounts of your experiences will be passed on to the relevant staff and reported as part of our patient feedback system.

Kind regards.

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Update posted by Bluebird5 (the patient)

Just wanted you to note this wasn't "several years ago", it was 23 months ago (March/April 2013).

Response from Helen Mulholland, NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group

Many thanks for letting us know your experience of care when you suffered with pneumonia. It sounds as though that the care you received on the whole was very positive. We need to recognise what is working well when planning for the future. Your comments, including those around your wait for X-Ray at follow up will be included in our considerations.

If you would like to keep up to date with how the CCG is using your feedback, you can do so here https://www.patientopinion.org.uk/blogposts/352/what-are-your-experiences-of-respiratory-care

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