Hospital care concerns

My mum has just undergone a mastectomy at the age of 77. While the response to her condition was second to none (3 weeks between doctors visit and surgery) and the basic nursing care was very good there were a couple of areas that have caused me some concern:-

  1. I was shocked to find out my mother was being classed as a day patient for such a major operation (especially given her age). This meant that she had to sit in a waiting room in her hospital gowns for 7 hours waiting to go for her operaton and she had not had food or water since the evening before. Even worse we were not allowed to accompany her because the waiting room was small so she had to endure this and her fear of the operation without the support of her family. This to me showed a distinct lack of empathy for the emotional needs of the patient and did not take into consideration her other health conditions.

  2. My mother was very ill following the operation and took a long time to recover from the surgery. She also had a haematoma. She was kept in hospital but over the course of the next two days got weaker and weaker and collapsed when she tried to stand up. On the third day we were told we could collect her but when we got there she had struggled to dress and could barely lift her head. At my insistance the senior nurse (who had just come back from holiday and was very helpful)did a blood test and mums haemoglobin levels were at 6!! They immediately arranged for a transfusion after which the improvements were dramatic.

I am not a nurse, nor have I every been but my mum was, and during her nursing career blood tests before and after operations were standard. I was really shocked to find out this had not been done and despite her worsening condition had not been investigated.

Has anybody else had this kind of experience?

I would add that the general nursing care was really great and the nurses themselves very kind and careing - it seemed to be more of a process and cost cutting issue than poor standards of nursing. There were clearly insufficient nurses to cover the number of patients and those off ill had not been covered with bank nurses. The poor nurses that were in had to spend most of their time filling in paperwork and forms. The district nurse that came out to see my mum at home after she came out of hospital spent 10 mins caring for my mum and one hour filling in the paperwork for the audits !!

I had a blood test pre op in case I needed a transfusion. Did your mother have support stockings to wear? I was given an anti clotting injection each of the two nights I was in. Basically I could have stayed in as long as I needed. I have had regular phone calls to check up on me. Lots of visits from district nurse who removed my drains after 5 days. My team removed my bandages a couple of days later. I am in the Coventry area, where are you?

your poor Mum sounds as if she had a horrid time. I wish I could say it was a one off but while I was in hospital overnight (after my first herceptin) there was a lady in her 80’s in the bed next to me who had had a masectomy who was in a lot of pain,she needed a bed pan during the night and was left on it for hours moaning. I should have made a fuss on her behalf - but you don’t like to be a nuisance and the staff were very busy . I’m afraid my elderly father had dreadful treatment whilst undergoing tests at a private hospital so it’s not just something that happens in the NHS.
I hope your Mum is recovering well now

I think the problem is non of us want to be see to be moaning or causing problems and we talk about the nurses as if they are ‘angels’ but my experience of care has been that is is the nurses who do not give the level of care - we (they) can blame NHS cuts for whatever but as I said my experience is that the majority of nurses do not seem to understand their role.

I was unfortunate in that I had two prolonged stays in hospital due to complications - my consultant and team of doctors were wonderful but as soon as they were off the scene the nurses did their own thing - and it was left up to me to remind them my druges (antibiotics and others) were due and other things, I wasn’t on my own at all and it was happening to everyone in the ward - nurses were standing around chatting and gossiping and buzzers going off and being ignored.

I was in intensive care for 4 days and again the level of care was poor - they were good at looking at monitors and filling in the paperwork but basic nursing care such as toilet and showers was non existant. I despartely wanted to go to the loo and was told that everyone was busy moving/lifing patients so i would have to wet the bed - it wouldnt be a problem as the mattress is plastic and they can change the linen!

I can give many more examples of very poor care and I get extremely cross thinking about how i was treated - but I am a fairly articulate intelligent and confident person - so I can speak up for myself and make a ‘fuss’ if required. There are many older polite ladies who would just sit and accept that this is what the level of care is.

I don’t think the nurses were lazy, they did 12 hour shifts which is a lot - they were just very disorganised and there was a general lack of direction and didnt seem to be any standards of care - they just lurched from patient to patient, doing the Obs - writing it down but ignoring the findings - so again paper work was accurate but nobody bothered to look at the Obs to see what was happening and whether there were any problems.

I could go on and on…

aliceq - Your mother’s treatment was unacceptable and you ought to complain.

As far as I know all NHS hospitals have complaints procedures and you should enquire about this. They will tell you to put it in writing, so just write what you have told us here.

You have to do it within 6 months of the incident, though.