"Doctor lacked any degree of sympathy"

About: Campus for Ageing and Vitality / Accident and emergency

(as the patient),

I attended the A&E after I started to bleed 7 weeks into my pregnancy. I initially contacted NHS direct, who referred me to local Dr (via the telephone), who then told me I should attend A&E as she was concerned about the bleeding, and felt I should have it checked out ASAP.

I duly turned up at the (virtually empty) A&E on a Saturday morning, and having checked in I was taken to a small examination room and asked to change into a hospital gown. So far so good, or so I thought. However, my husband and I were then left sitting in the, frankly freezing, little room for 40 minutes, before a nurse stuck her head through the door and asked if we'd seen the Dr yet. When I said no she looked surprised and said she would let them know I was waiting. Finally 15 minutes later the Dr finally arrived! When she walked through the door it was apparent she was heavily pregnant herself, and this made me feel that here was someone who would not only provide us with the advice we needed, but would understand our situation, how wrong can I have been.

I felt as if language proved the first issue, while she did speak English it was so heavily accented I struggled to understand what she was asking me, and had to ask her to repeat what she was saying a number of times. Equally, she seemed to misinterpret what I was saying. When she asked me if I was suffering from cramps and I said not, but rather had a strong constant pain in one side of my abdomen she said 'yes, that's what I asked cramps?' I couldn't seem to get her to understand that the pain was not cramp at all, and in the end both myself and my husband were starting to wonder if what she meant by cramps was totally different to what we understood them to be?

After taking my blood pressure and proclaiming it to be worryingly high for early pregnancy, she finally stated that we needed to have a scan, but that scans don't operate at weekends, and are Monday to Friday only, so we would need to come back for a scan during the week. Then, somewhat worryingly, she told us it was imperative we come back for a scan as it may be an ectopic pregnancy, which was potentially very dangerous!

When my husband asked why they couldn't scan immediately if it was so dangerous, she simply kept repeating that scans were mon-fri only and the registrar would not consider my case urgent enough to do a scan outside these hours. However, if I passed out from the pain, or started having searing pains they would consider it!

I left the A&E in tears not knowing if my pregnancy was continuing or not, and with the possibility of an ectopic pregnancy hanging over my head. I felt like it was one of the worst experiences I have ever encountered. I thought the Dr in question had absolutely no bedside manner whatsoever, and left us feeling like we were an inconvenience to her, and the hospital. I can honestly say that from my experience I would never go back to this A&E given the choice.

I do feel, however, I should mention the nurses, who were extremely kind to us, and who were thoughtful enough to bring me a box of tissues as I sat crying in the examination room. I think it’s a shame this Dr wasn't equipped with the same degree of sympathy.

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