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To expect a hospital to provide dressings and food for a patient?

(19 Posts)
mummydoit Fri 21-Sep-07 09:44:00

Dad was rushed to hospital last week. He had a stomach feeding tube fitted in July (he has cancer of the oesophagus and can't swallow) and left hospital with an infected wound. The infection did not clear up with antibiotics and he got worse and worse. By Tuesday last week, his temperature was raging, he had terrible diarrhoea and was developing septicaemia. Turns out he's got c. difficile infection, almost certainly picked up in hospital. As they gave him the infection, you'd think they'd be bending over backwards to treat him well but not so. He's been in there over a week and they still have no dressings for his stomach stoma. Mum is having to bring them from home for the supply he was given when he was originally discharged. They're leaving my Mum to do all his care during the day - she gives him his tube feeds, washes him, takes him to the loo and cleans up after his diarrhoea and even administers his drugs (and I'm sure that's not legal!). She even had to change his sheets the other day. Thankfully, he's getting a little better and is now able to swallow a little ice-cream or custard but on Wednesday they forgot to put in his menu so he had no food delivered for lunch or tea. Mum had to go and ask what had been left by other patients and he had to have someone else's unwanted custard. Poor Dad is desperate to leave but likely to be stuck in there for a few more weeks.

harleyd Fri 21-Sep-07 09:47:58

thats bloody shocking. can you go with your mum and give them shit speak to them to say how angry you are

Soph73 Fri 21-Sep-07 09:51:04

How awful for you & your family. I have heard similar horror stories about English hospitals recently. We live abroad and when you´re hospitalised here they treat you fabulously.

Soph73 Fri 21-Sep-07 09:51:23

The food is brill & the wards, etc are spotless as cleaners come round every few hours (& this is the state system not private). Here´s wishing your father recovers quickly so he can get the hell out of there.

mummydoit Fri 21-Sep-07 09:55:31

Unfortunately, I live 250 miles away so it's difficult to go. I went up at the weekend but Mum didn't say how bad it was. My sister, who does live close by, has had a go at the staff but she's not the most tactful person and just annoyed everybody. I've suggested that my mum speak to the Ward Manager and, if that fails, the hospital has a Patient Liaison Service that she could use. They are also entitled to help from a Macmillan nurse who, I'm sure, could liaise with ward staff for them but Dad keeps refusing to have one. Mum won't kick up a fuss as she's afraid they'll take it out on Dad. I'm going up again next weekend and, if things are no better, I will be speaking to the staff myself.

mummydoit Fri 21-Sep-07 09:56:41

Where do you live, Soph? Can we move there! Mum was hospitalized last year on holiday in Egypt and the hospital she was in was amazing. So clean and efficient. She got blood test results back in 3 hours, Dad's are taking 3 days!

EmsMum Fri 21-Sep-07 09:56:46

Thats appalling.

Not all hospitals are like that (my FIL ended up in one where the ward sister made sure pretty young nurse spoonfed him). theres simply no excuse for failing basic nutrition

Anoah Fri 21-Sep-07 09:57:15

The hospitals don't have any money to do jack shit right now.

Knowing what I know I would simply be happy to get out of there breathing. There isn't much the frontline staff can do despite the fact that they are working their asses off for nothing. The hospitals are flat out broke and nothing in the way of money is hitting the ground. They did not give him c-diff. People who are unwell develop Cdiff due to antibiotics. Most of us are at risk of developing it if we are unwell and on antibiotics.

They are getting rid of staff left and right. NHS managers have no understanding regarding the fact that you actually need staff and supplies to care for patients.

These guys know that patients are suffering and they also know that the overwhelmed frontline staff will take all of the abuse off of patients/families. They are laughing at all of us.

If the airlines did this and decided that they were going to cull 1/3 of their pilots yet try to operate as many flights as they are now would you be yelling at the pilots when flights didn't get off the ground because they are trying to fly three planes at once? This is seriously equivalent with what is happening in the NHS with medical and nursing care.

I am sorry to hear about your dad and I hope he recovers soon. It must be heartbreaking for you and your mum. I am very active in trying to get things to change in our hospitals. Stories like this one make me want to fight harder.

Anoah Fri 21-Sep-07 10:01:52

Sometimes we only have 2 nurses on the ward. They are responsible for 35 patients. 20 of these patients are unable to feedthemselves. 10 of them have IV drips with titrated meds/chest tubes/and sudden changes in conditions that warrant a nurse at their bedside at all times. Nurse leaves them to go and feed people and she can be responsible for someone's death and end up in court very easily. These 2 nurses are also responsible for everything else for these people.

The managers know this yet will refuse to send any more staff. They are not hiring due to recruitment freezes. That is why this stuff is happening.

If I gave you 10 patients who were actively trying to die on you and 20 patients who needed to be fed at the same time and no help how would you get them fed? Would you leave the actively trying to die ones to feed another. These are the kids of choices the frontline staff are forced to make. 99% of them are busting their asses trying to make it work.

mummydoit Fri 21-Sep-07 10:11:03

Anoah, I know it's the system that's at fault, not the individual nurses. Some of the nurses looking after Dad are lovely and doing their best. Some are not. He's being barrier nursed in isolation due to the infection and, when I arrived on Saturday, a nurse showed me to his room and did not take the time to explain to me the need for hand washing on entering and leaving the room. That would have taken no time at all to explain and is an essential part of barrier nursing. Luckily, my mum had already explained it over the phone but for the nurse to not tell me is just neglectful.

Could you confirm to me the position on admministering drugs? The nurses bring the drugs into the room and ask my mum to administer them, then leave her to it. They don't check to see if she is doing. I am not comfortable with this as, if there were ever a mistake with medication, I feel my Mum could be blamed. Are nursing staff allowed to let relatives administer medication?

Anoah Fri 21-Sep-07 10:13:46

Okay I'll post again (sorry for triple posting). I really want to open the lines of communication between patients and staff because we are all victims here and I am militant about it.

The OP's story is not unique and frontline staff are trying to pull together to put a stop to this crap. One nurse for 20-30 patients will be completely ineffective no matter how caring or hardworking he/she is.

Please help us out and have a look at the petition.

http://militantmedicalnurse.blogspot.com/2007/09/my-am-i-so-angry.html

http://petitions.pm.go v.uk/nurseratios/

A growing body of research evidence shows that increases in the number of patients cared for by each nurse leads to increases in hospital-acquired infections, pressure ulcers, malnutrition, dehydration and patient mortality. This also leads to increased levels of stress, demoralisation and "burn-out" among nurses.

We therefore feel it is vital to tackle the understaffing of hospital wards. The government should set statutory minimum nurse: patient ratios, with penalties for NHS Trusts that fail to achieve these ratios."

Having set standards regarding staffing not only saves patients lives and reduces complications but it also saves money. NHS managers are currently trying to get rid of as many nurses as possible.

Hospitals that have instituted nurse patient ratios have seen their number of complaints plummet. Complaints are a huge expense for the NHS and all hospitals. Hospitals that have implemented this program have also seen their medication and other error rates dramatically decrease. Their infection rate plummets. They will actually save money by having more registered nurses on the wards.

Study after study has shown that intentional short staffing by managers is not only dangerous but really very expensive.

Registered nurses do make a difference. People suffer/starve/ get infections and die when their nurse has too many patients. The managers want as few of them on the wards that they feel they can get away with in order to try and meet their budgets and save money. Having too few nurses around actually has the opposite effect.

Anoah Fri 21-Sep-07 10:18:49

Sometimes on a ward they have 30 patients to administer drugs to at one time and if they are not given on time it's an automatic disciplinary and possible loss of your job.

If you are not in and out of that room in 10 seconds flat per patient your screwed and so are all of your patients. At the same time leaving a relative to administer meds and not checking is a big no no but sometimes they don't have a choice.

If you actually have staff on a shift and stable patients than you can take the time otherwise forget it. What you do for one patient depends on what is going on with your others at that moment.

I don't want to frighten people and scare monger but I am committed to nipping this in the bud. There is no need for people to suffer this kind of treatment in hospital.

fedupwasherwoman Fri 21-Sep-07 10:38:20

Anoah,

Aren't there any volunteer organisations that can be tapped into to provide patients with assistance in feeding at mealtimes.

If nursing staff time is so short can't this job be given to unqualified helpers be they volunteers or not.

fedupwasherwoman Fri 21-Sep-07 10:41:50

I'm thinking WRVS or the like.

3andnomore Fri 21-Sep-07 10:57:17

This is so awful for all of you...and it shouldn't happen, but I suppose looking at anoahs posts...well, it's not surprising really!

Well, i always look at teh NHS website for careers/Jobs...etc....am pondering if I should or shouldn't go back into Nursing...and it always strikes me how many otehr sort of managarial Jobs there seem to be going and how well those are paid, and I wonder maybe less chiefs and more indians would be the answer...save teh money on to many managers and you can pay possibly about 2 staff nurses, or at least 1 1/2 per managers job that you cut, or 1 Nurse one support staff...

Soph73 Fri 21-Sep-07 11:26:32

mummydoit - we live in Gran Canaria & it´s fab. Please feel free to come and join us I had DS here & am pregnant again so will be back in hospital & the care was second to none. Still a bit backward in some respects but not as far as care of patients is concerned.

rydercup Fri 21-Sep-07 12:10:04

Hi...really sorry mummydoit to hear about your sitiuation but it does not surprise me I have to say having just spent a week in hospital when my 4 year old broke his femur.... My sum up of the NHS would be MESSY...the left hand does not know half the time what the right hand is doing....as you say, the majority of the staff are fantastic and lovely but they can only work with the system that they have. I witnessed mistake, after mistake....children being given lunch when they were on a nil by mouth because they were having an operation, mismanagement of information, inappropriate equipment..so many examples it becomes embarrassing. My motto swiftly became let me do everything I possibly can for my little boy...because I did not trust anybody else to get it right (sounds like your mum is adopting the same policy). I changed sheets, requested and checked pain relief medicines, sorted out his washing and toileting. None of this is ideal....but I just wanted to get out as quickly as I could..(having myself picked up a stomach bug along with half the ward within 2 days of being there!!!!). I did complain...furously....but could not help thinking that nothing would change....I hope things get better for your dad soon - just wanted to share your frustration.

mummydoit Fri 21-Sep-07 12:56:03

Anoah, what you have posted is very interesting and I'm certainly going to be signing that petition. I'm also very interested to find out what the staff to patient ratio is on Dad's ward.

Rydercup, sorry you've been in a similar frustrating situation. Of course, my Mum could simply refuse to do anything for Dad but then Dad would only end up suffering more so she feels she's got no choice. It's lucky for Dad that Mum doesn't work or have children at home and is able to be there all day, every day. If it were my DH, I simply would not be able to spend that number of hours there. Oh, and the irony is the reason my Mum doesn't work is that she can't through ill-health! So you have the sick taking care of the sick.

alicet Fri 21-Sep-07 13:22:59

Your experience is appalling. Have to say that I have rarely experienced substandard care like this in the many nhs hospitals I have worked in but that won’t be any help or comfort to you I’m sure. I am a doctor though rather than a nurse so although I would like to think I would spot big glaring problems like this (have previously pointed out on a medical ward that leaving the water out of reach of frail old ladies isn’t going to encourage them to drink!!!) I will not be aware of all.

The blood test thing – some blood tests do take hours but others are more complex and take longer. In particular ones to look for evidence of infection can take several days as it takes that long for some bacteria to grow. So this might not be something to worry about.

Anoah is right about the c-difficile thing too. Its not so much a hygiene thing as much as some other infections you can get in hospitals. More something you are predisposed to by being unwell and then when you are given antibiotics these disrupt the balance of normal healthy bacteria in your body making you prone to getting it.

Good luck in getting the care improved for your dad. Can understand your mum’s worry that things might be adversely affected if she complains but usually the opposite is true. Threats of complaints even if you don’t intend to follow through usually help people to raise their game – sad but true. Just make sure they are made to the most senior person on the ward as it will be their neck on the line. It might also be worth you writing a letter so your concerns are put in writing and say you want to be able to meet someone when you are there next weekend to go through your concerns so you can be reassured they are being acted on.

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