"Experience of A&E at Hairmyres Hospital"
About: Hairmyres Hospital / Emergency department Hairmyres Hospital Emergency department G75 8RG
Posted by Relative and Medic (as ),
My father was admitted to Hairmyres through A&E after having a heart attack. I drove my father to the hospital A&E myself, and we arrived at the reception desk where a receptionist asked for my father's details and symptoms.
The receptionist seemed to be in training as she was unsure of how the computer system worked and was being guided by a senior colleague, which lengthened the process of collecting my father's details and arranging for him to be seen by a doctor. The receptionist also asked us to look at a sheet of paper stapled to the reception desk, and identify which 'ethnic group' we belonged to.
If my father had been brought to A&E with a milder complaint such as a sprained ankle, I would have been more than happy to wait an extra five minutes to allow the trainee receptionist to learn on the job. I would also have been happy to look through the ethnic grouping list carefully and tell her which category we belonged to.
However, as a final year medical student, I was surprised and distressed by the receptionist's lack of insight into the gravity of the situation i.e. an elderly man complaining of chest pain and arm numbness. In such a case, a delay of 5 minutes can contribute to 5 minutes more irreversible damage to the heart muscle, in other words, time is muscle. I would have thought that ethnic origin could be established once my father was given adequate pain relief and medication to stabilise his heart. In such situations, I suggest that an experienced receptionist quickly and efficiently deals with the patient and chooses the patient cases for training colleagues more appropriately.
I would also mention that I was told to wait in the A&E waiting room for almost 2 hours with no word from staff as to whether my father was alive or dead. When I asked the receptionist for help on this matter I was told that 'someone would let me know when I could go through'. It was later revealed that my father had requested to the A&E staff that I be kept informed of his situation whilst in the waiting room, and he was reassured by staff that someone was doing so and that there was a dedicated member of the team who was responsible for this job.
When I finally was informed of anything, I was told that my father was in the 'cath lab' and that more information would be given to me there. I was given directions and instructed to go and find him (on my own). I would like to mention that saying the words 'cath lab' to a relative is not appropriate especially if no further information is given, and to a lay person this phrase could be taken as anything from a mortuary laboratory to any other kind of laboratory.
As a medic, I immediately had to assume that my father had definitely had a heart attack and was now undergoing a procedure with potentially fatal complications. When I did reach the catheterisation lab, the nurse in charge was surprised as to why I had been waiting in A&E for so long without any information.
I hope my experiences emphasise to the A&E staff the importance and responsibility of all members of the multidisciplinary team to initiate prompt action in life-threatening circumstances, and the importance of honesty (when falsely reassuring a patient) and communication with relatives in serious situations.