"A&E and misdiagnosis"

About: Darent Valley Hospital / Accident and emergency

(as the patient),

I had been suffering with UTI's for over six weeks and after four different courses of antibiotics, prescribed by a local walk-in centre, and eventually acute kidney pain, I was rushed into Darent Valley hospital one Monday morning.

Luckily, with a letter from the walk in centre stating the urgency and the level of pain I was in, I was seen to fairly quickly. The A&E waiting room was overcrowded and with no where to sit, people were sitting on the floor and crowding the corridors.

I had my blood taken from a nurse who hit a nerve in my arm and was extremely unconcerned telling me to 'shhh' when I screamed at her to pull it out and that something was wrong. As I'd never heard of this happening before, as I cried in pain, I questioned the nurse as to what happened. She quickly dismissed me saying it's nothing to worry about and told me to go and sit back in A&E.

After what seemed like a lifetime, I was given a pain relief suppository prescribed by a doctor, who asked my symptoms and history and typed then into a computer. He asked if there was a possibility I could be pregnant, to which I told him I hadn't yet had my period, although it was unlikely. I was then sat back in the A&E waiting room for a further hour until the doctor returned to tell me I needed a CT scan and was moved to this department where I was relieved to find a comfortable chair in the corridor as the pain relief had made me drowsy.

It was over two hours before anyone even spoke to me, and I was taken in for my CT scan to which a woman asked beforehand if I'd had a pregnancy test done. I told her I hadn't, but a doctor had mentioned I needed one earlier. The CT scan went ahead without the pregnancy test and I was once again told to sit back in A&E and await the results of my scan.

There was an announcement to say that the waiting time in A&E was now over three hours, and when I'd realised I'd been sitting back there for almost three hours, found a nurse and asked what was going on. She said they had been looking for me. Which I found hard to believe, as I'd been sitting in A&E on and off for what was now eight long hours. I was moved to what the nurse described as a 'comfortable chair' while she went to find the doctor to tell me the results. 15 minutes later the doctor took me aside, told me the CT scan was clear, prescribed me another course of antibiotics, as all of the previous courses had failed, and sent me home.

Needless to say, once the pain relief had fully worn off, the following day I was in unbearable acute pain in my lower back, which led to an ambulance rushing me back to Darent Hospital. When talking to the paramedic on the way to the hospital (who had given me a dosage of morphine to put me at ease) he told me that the previous evening, the A&E waiting list had grown to over eight hours. The pain was increasing, which was worrying to the paramedic as the morphine should have by now taken the pain away.

I was crying in agony, not able to sit still by the time I reached the hospital. The paramedic sat me on a chair and went to the A&E reception to hand in my details and push for me to be seen by a doctor. He was told to sit me in the A&E waiting room, which I had expected. I was humiliated that everyone in the room was looking at me as I was sobbing so much and wriggling around in so much agony. About 45 minutes later, I could no longer stand the increasing pain so I rushed to the toilet as I thought this could be down to my bladder being full from the water the paramedic had told me to drink. On my way (still crying and could hardly get my words out) I asked a nurse if she could get me a urine sample pot as I already knew that the pain of passing urine was unbearable and wanted to get this out of the way.

When waiting for the bathroom, another patient was concerned about the amount of pain I was in and asked if there was anything she could do, while doctors and nurses rushed passed me, ignoring my agony. Only now did I realise how lucky I had been the previous day to be seen to straight away. Upon giving my sample to the nurse, she recognised me asking if I was there yesterday. She rushed to speak to someone telling them I needed to jump the queue and be seen next.

My friend finally arrived to keep me company and was shocked by how pale but sweaty I was, how much pain I was in and how I hadn't yet been seen to. She went to see someone and I was finally called into a side room, where a man asked me how the triage staff could be of service to me. His casual question shocked me as I was stressed and quite clearly in a serious amount of pain. He asked me question after question, ignoring my cries, to which my friend told him it was probably more beneficial if he read my notes, which were on the table in front of him. When realising I had been in A&E twice in two days, rushed in via ambulance, and had already been given morphine which had not taken away the pain, he managed to get me a bed in what I assumed was still the A&E department. A doctor saw me, gave me a drip of pain relief, felt my stomach and back and realised I had a rash all the way up my spine. It struck me that the previous day, the doctor hadn't even looked at my back.

The doctor said it was my appendix referring my pain to the other side and wanted to prepare me for surgery, also mentioning an urgent need for an ultra sound, as a matter of priority. It all sounded very serious, I was taken to CDU where I contacted my family (who all live in the North East of England) to tell them I was going into theatre for an operation to remove my appendix. A nurse, who was extremely concerned about why I wasn't admitted the previous day, told me a doctor would be with me very soon.

After a couple of hours, I still hadn't seen a doctor and when a man with a trolley offered me food, I accepted having not eaten all day. Halfway through my sandwich the nurse returned to tell me I wasn't allowed to eat as I was 'nil by mouth' which I hadn't been told. By this point, the pain was starting to return with aggression, but as I hadn't been 'clarked' I was turned down pain relief after several requests.

I waited six hours for the surgeons to arrive (at 1am) who spent less than 5 minutes examining me and quickly dismissed the fact it was my appendix, claiming I needed the medical team. Three hours later, at 4am the medical team came, prescribing me IV antibiotics for a kidney infection and admitting me to the hospital.

I was Penicillin and then told that I was allergic, as a rash covered my body shortly after. However this was never written on my notes.

Finally, on the Thursday, they tested me for pregnancy, and thankfully (since I'd already had a CT scan) I wasn't pregnant. I was given strong pain relief throughout my time in the hospital so I was very much out of it, and drowsy and had no idea whether I was getting any better or worse. By the fourth day I was being given so many different tablets, I had no idea what they were for, and as no one was reading my notes, didn't trust them and hid the tablets.

At 8am on Friday I was told I was being discharged by a doctor who I had never seen in the whole time I was in the hospital. I cried, saying I need some answers. What if it comes back? What caused it? Why did it take four lots of antibiotics?

The nurse told me to sit by the window until my medication was ready as they needed my bed for another patient. I was told I was been given more antibiotics (now on my fifth course) and being referred to the urologist as an outpatient as a matter of urgency. It wasn't until after 6pm that same day, when my medication was ready and I was allowed to leave.

I left the hospital without knowing what caused the agony I was in, why my infection hasn't cleared after six weeks and if there is a bigger problem I needed to be worried about.

I feel this hospital is overpopulated, understaffed and a worrying place to be. The A&E department is unbelievable, with staff forgetting that people's life are at risk here. There was no rush even though there were so many people in so much pain, waiting to be seen. It seems to me that the staff I saw are so used to the hospital being this way that it has become almost normal to be rude and desensitized.

It baffles me that they thought my appendix was about to burst, yet it took six hours for a doctor to see me and even then, inform me it wasn't anything to do with my appendix.

Nobody read my notes, they prescribed me pain relief to disguise the 'bigger' problem and I am now terrified to ever return in another emergency as I didn't feel at all safe or looked after. Other patients around me were in the same boat and many unhappy and concerned about the service, lack of testing and professionalism.

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Response from Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust

Dear Milbu

We were very sorry to see that you had such an unhappy experience when you visited our A&E Department. We do expect our staff to be professional and courteous at all times. We would very much like to investigate the concerns you have raised and ask that you contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALs) on 01322 428383 or email pals@dvh.nhs.uk.

Thank you

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