"My mother came into the QEII on ..."

About: Queen Elizabeth I I Hospital (Welwyn Garden City)

(as a relative),

What could be improved

My mother came into the QEII on Wednesday 5th August by ambulance after a fall. She was told after x rays that she had not broken her hip/leg as she had thought and she could go home after some painkillers had taken effect and she could stand. She was of course mightily relieved having broken her hip about a year ago. About half an hour later she was told the doctors had looked at the x rays again and she had indeed broken her leg and would need an operation to replace the current hip with a different one. She was understandably upset although she has put a brave face on it. She has since been scheduled for surgery every day (so Thurs, Fri, Sat) but it hasn't taken place and now we are told Monday or Tuesday. The reason the operation did not take place on one of the days,we were told ,was because particular kit/equipment was needed, it had been used and therefore was not sterile. Each day my mum has of course been unable to eat until late in the day because she has been nil by mouth in case the op takes place.

I have asked today, sunday, to speak to the doctor in charge of her care as I am worried about the effect this will have on her recovery but as it is the weekend I have been told to call again tomorrow morning, which I will do.

So all in all I have not been impressed with my mother's care to date. As regards what could have been improved:

. Be sure of the diagnosis before telling an old lady

.Make sure there are sufficient kits for the type of operations to be carried out - I don't understand why there was only one and if there was, why noone was aware it had been used

.carry out operations sooner - the longer the delay, the more difficult it must be to recover from the operation.

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Response from Queen Elizabeth I I Hospital

Thank you for letting us know what happened. With regard to the x-rays, these can sometimes be difficult to interpret and errors in their reading can occur. I am sure that no doctor would ever want to give any patient, elderly or otherwise, false information. While on this occasion the re-read x-ray did result in your mother needing an operation, it would have been worse for her if the broken hip had not been picked up at all.

With regard to the lack of sterile kit, these are not standardised but made up for specific types of operation. The problem that we – like most NHS trusts have – is that if someone arrives as an emergency, a sterile kit intended for someone as an emergency can get used for them instead. It's a dilemma that our staff face every day.

We accept, however, that the above information does not help your mother right now. Which is why we would very much like to be able to help further - if you e-mail your mother's details (full name, address and date of birth - we will check in to what went wrong and make sure that you get a thorough explanation, as well as seek to help ensure that her operation does go ahead as planned. Just send the information to generalenquiries.enh-tr@nhs.net.

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