"Brusque treatment at colonoscopy"

About: University Hospital Wishaw / Endoscopy

(as a service user),

Bullied at my most vulnerable

Firstly, I have to say I am very grateful to the NHS for arranging a colonoscopy following a bowel cancer test. I am indebted to the many wonderful staff who helped me before and after the procedure. But the one who had the major role was not, in my opinion, professional.

I had opted for gas and air, rather than being sedated, as it was not possible (at short notice) to arrange someone to be with me.

I was given the gas and air and instructed in its use. The nurse inserted the scope and, at first, all was well. I then experienced major discomfort which caused me to moan loudly. For this I was told off and accused of ‘panicking’ and talked to as if I were a naughty child. I wanted to shout at this nurse but, given the vulnerable position I was in, I realised I had to be firm and not show the anger I felt. In a very loud voice, I said I was not panicking, but in severe discomfort.

Another nurse in the room told me I wasn’t using the gas and air properly. Between them, it felt like they were a bullying tag-team. This had obviously paused the procedure and I was told the nurse could not continue if I “carried on like that”.  The nurse then demanded my permission to continue. I let quite a few seconds pass; the request was repeated (somewhat officiously). I then asked how far they had got and was told they were ‘nearly there’, I said to carry on. This was hardly a joy, but we got finished. A polyp was found and snared off. 

Being British, I thanked everyone profusely when it was over - in spite of the fact that I felt shocked at humiliated at my brusque treatment.   There are serious lessons to be learned. I would suggest that the nurse concerned be given training to improve their ‘bedside manner’. To be talked to as I was is completely unacceptable. What should have happened is that, on becoming aware of my obvious distress, the nurse should have said (kindly) “ok, let’s just stop for a moment or two and you can see how you feel before proceeding” – or some such. But this was someone who did not seem to like me holding them and perhaps obviously used to dealing with sedated patients. I presumed this operation was about me, but it really was all about this member of staff. 

I don’t think anyone inflicting this on a patient should do so without having the procedure themselves – using gas and air. 

I do not believe the gas and air was effective at all. I ended up using it for the duration of the procedure, by which time I would have expected to notice some relief/effect.  Was it mixed properly? I understand that when patients are given sedation, they are also given pain relief. Why is this not done for those who choose not to have sedation?

The biopsy showed it was a harmless polyp, and I will need to return in about a year for a sigmoidoscopy.  I will not deal again with the same insensitive nurse.


Response from Lynne Linden, Charge Nurse, Day Surgery / Endoscopy, University Hospital Wishaw We are preparing to make a change

picture of Lynne Linden

Dear Conflicted, thank you taking the time to feedback on your experience in our unit. I am so sorry to hear that you felt bullied and humiliated at such a vulnerable, anxious time. This is absolutely not the care we expect our patients to receive here in Endoscopy at Wishaw.

Could I ask you to contact our Senior Charge Nurse, Karen Mclelland, on 01698 366280 or Patient Affairs on 01698 366558 as we would like to investigate this further for you.

I will share your experience with the team at our brief today and have a discussion around staff attitudes. I’m sure they will be dismayed to hear that you had such a negative experience with us.

I will also organise refresher training on the use of Entonox for our next staff training afternoon.

Kind regards, Lynne.

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