"Blood Transfusion - Hospital Stay"

About: Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service Victoria Infirmary

(as the patient),

I went to BTS to donate blood and was told that I was severely anaemic. BTS were very good and gave me a letter for my GP and advised me to go that day. I asked what the worse case scenario was and they said that with a blood count of 7, I was running the risk of heart attack.

I went to GP that same day. They didn’t seem too concerned and told me they couldn’t take blood at that time but to come back and see the nurse. They advised me, in the meantime, not to do anything differently as it may not be an iron deficiency, it may be a B12 deficiency. I told them I had an operation pending and they said that it may not go ahead if my blood count was low, but still advised me to do nothing.

I eventually had blood taken and was called by a doctor that evening to say that the BTS had written to them with full blood results. My blood count was 5.9 which was very low and I was asked to go in to see them the following morning.

The doctor wrote me a letter for A&E advising that I be given a blood transfusion. At no time was I told an overnight stay would be required or advised to take anything with me.

I went to A&E, was admitted to hospital and was asked for the same information by about four different nurses.

I was in the ward when a nurse told me she’d called my parents. I said I wished she hadn’t because I didn’t want to upset them with non-information, preferring to call them when I knew what was going on.

I was moved to another ward where a nurse approached me and asked me to call my parents as they were phoning the hospital and becoming quite irate at being given no information. I was told that the hospital were not permitted to give out information about me as I was an adult. I did point out that my parents attitude was unsurprising considering they had been told I was in hospital, without my permission, and then told that they couldn’t be told why, particularly considering the last they had heard from me was that I was severely anaemic and could have a heart attack.

I believe it was then written into my notes that “there were clearly issues within this family” as I had not wanted my parents contacted. My parents both suffer from medical conditions and I had not wanted them contacted unnecessarily as I did not want them to worry. They should not have been bothered by a nurse who had no permission to contact them and was unable to give them any useful information.

The blood transfusion started at about 5.30 pm and it was then I found out that I had to stay overnight as it takes approximately 3 hours per unit and I was getting two units.

Next day about 10 am blood was taken and was told I was being sent for an ultrasound to check my aorta was not enlarged (this took place about 4 pm, the aorta wasn’t enlarged, the doctor performing it gave me the results then and there). I was told I could not be discharged until the blood results came back, which I found acceptable.

I asked at noon when the blood results would be available and told a couple of hours; I asked at 2 pm same answer. Finally at 6.30 pm a nurse asked if anyone had told me what was happening yet, when I said no she told me I was being kept in as my blood count was only at 9 and my ultra sound result wasn’t back. I complained about the lack of information, the nurse said “fair enough”. I don’t think it is fair enough to not provide someone with information which is about them. The blood results apparently came back at 4.30 pm but no one bothered to tell me until two hours later despite my asking on more than one occasion, and it appeared that no one could pick up a phone to find out about the ultrasound. I felt that these nurses (laughably the caring profession) were not thinking things through. I was worried about my health and because I found myself unexpectedly in hospital, had to arrange for my pet to be fed, cancel plans with friends, I may have to have cancelled travel plans I had for the Friday and had I not been on holiday, I would have had to notify my employer.

It appears to me that if you are well enough to be able to question, the nurses have no idea what to do with you. Their customer service is deplorable and when you are dealing with health issues it should be first class and you should be informed of every step.

On the Thursday around 10am I was advised I could be discharged. No additional blood was taken so the blood count being 9 didn’t seem to matter that much and keeping me in on Wednesday night seemed to be pointless.

I was told that I would have to wait for my drugs before being allowed to leave.

I asked time and again when they would be coming and whether I could either go the pharmacy to pick them up (can’t do this apparently, although I did when attending the chest clinic) or leave and come back (the doctor said I could the nurse said no – consistency please).

Finally at 3.30 pm I was given my prescription of bog standard iron tablets 210 mg one to be taken three times a day. I could have bought them in any pharmacy or they could have hastened the prescription but instead they decided to take up a bed for yet another day. Bed shortage?

The communication channels in the hospitals are dreadful. I have been in hospital a number of times over the years and I still feel that nurses I have come into contact with can sometimes be uncaring, unprofessional and untrained. I am not their inconvenience, they are there to look after me when I am a patient and that means give me information as well as be able to administer drugs, write up charts etc.

I have to say there was one student nurse who was very lovely and did her best to answer questions and make me feel relaxed, but she was only working the Tuesday when I was there. The nurses also discussed other patients in my presence. I found out one was to attend alcoholics anonymous (and I thought the clue was in the title) and another who had been admitted on Tuesday and was waiting a CT scan was still there on Thursday because the nurse had forgotten to order the CT scan. These indiscretions are unacceptable.

The ward was also unclean, corners were missed and anything about eye level was manky.

In all fairness to the Victoria Infirmary, a few years back, I had to attend their chest clinic and the treatment I received there from three doctors and one nurse was fabulous, so much so I actually wrote to thank them. However, this time round I was appalled from the moment I stepped into the ward. They need to have an attitude change and accept that they are there to serve the patient and not to treat the patient as an inconvenience.

I am going into hospital again soon for an operation so this may be updated!

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