"I was shocked and depressed by the lack of care..."
About: Queen Alexandra Hospital Queen Alexandra Hospital Portsmouth PO6 3LY
Posted by ShigellaR
What I liked
1. The doctor and nurse I saw initially: On first being admitted (in severe pain, with fever, chills and dehydration), I was treated very well by the duty doctor and nurse assigned to my case: they were kind and encouraging and certainly treated me with dignity. Unfortunately, they were not on duty and/or my case that night or the following day.
2. The Air Force and Navy nurses who were on duty the following morning: They were compassionate following a rather depressing (non-)diagnosis.
What could be improved
1. The night nurse: She was unable to change an IV fluids bag, kept wandering off (mid- IV bag replacement, mid-analgesics decision). In the end, a doctor came in to administer oral morphine and another nurse quickly sorted out my fluids (after the doctor's assessment quickly found me to be dehydrated); I never saw my originally-assigned night nurse again (thankfully).
2. The attitudes of the surgeons: I was visited in the morning by a consultant who clearly had no interest in my case (it was clear by then that I didn't need surgery). Rather than consider referring me elsewhere, he brushed me off with an IBS "diagnosis". The more junior surgeon who saw me later in the day to tell me that I would be discharged also insisted upon the IBS diagnosis, and was even more condescending and dismissive (at one point even finding his fingernails more interesting than me, his patient). When I queried the diagnosis and suggested other avenues of enquiry, I was scolded for getting "hung up" on other things; he then responded to his beeper and never returned.
3. The attention of nursing staff to my needs after about noon, the day after admission: My IV fluids were detached for me to go for a scan, but were not replaced. After several requests I was given a small beaker of water; finally a jug arrived. Over this period I was very dehydrated and finding it difficult to drink.
4. For someone to have checked my medical records: I had sent off a stool sample at my GP's on the morning I was admitted. I found out a week later that this had come back positive for Shigella (causer of dysentery and dehydration): my GP hadn't contact me as the results came back the same day and she (rightly) assumed that the doctors there would see them. I could have started the treatment then and there -- and should have been on IV fluids!
This is the second time I have been admitted to QA (previously in the MAU with a head injury) and neither time have I been impressed by the care overall: although this time I was initially optimistic, I left still in pain, feeling thoroughly exhausted, and frustrated that I my symptoms were being dismissed without proper investigation (even a cursory glance at my records, as it turns out -- and I did mention that I had a stool test in on several occasions, so they had every reason to check up on that).
What is most sad is that there are some staff there really trying to do their jobs. The nurse and doctor I saw on the evening I arrived were great -- and the singing at the nurses' station that evening was, frankly, much-needed cheer. The Air Force and Navy nurses were also kind and helpful, as were the porters. How very sad that the Forces nurses needed to show me kindness in part because I was distressed after my dismissive treatment by the consultant, and that the surgeons in particular let the side down by not actually caring what was wrong with me since it didn't involve cutting me open.
My experiences in hospital in QA leave me with a horror of future admissions, and a horror of growing old and being even more helpless in the face of such dismissive staff.
I will be writing a formal letter of complaint.