"Son had a brain tumour!"

About: Princess Royal University Hospital (Orpington)

My son (27) arrived at the hospital with us (mum and dad). He was suffering from severe headache which he described as hellish pressure on the front of his head - he was confused and disorientated and kept repeating himself. He didn't know who we were as mum and dad he thought I was his aunt and his dad was a bank manager. This did not seem to phase either of the first two doctors who each saw my son. A urine test was done, blood pressure taken and heart monitored - lots of toing and froing and leaving us to just watch our son rapidly deteriorate. We were informed he just had a bad headache and take him home. My son was promptly sick once we got home so back to the hospital and after much arguing with the front desk we insisted on being seen immediately as by this time my son was almost unconscious through pain. Finally got to see a new doctor who had just come on duty and therefore needed to be refreshed with the details - the notes had been mislaid - on hearing symptoms the new doctor immediately sent my son for a scan which came back showing a brain tumour which was causing hydrocephalus which was causing the pain. He was finally given morphine and anti inflamatory steroids and we waited and hour and a half for an ambulance to take us to St George's Hospital in Tooting for emergency treatment in the Neurology department where we were told that he was in a life threatening situation and if we hadn't put our foot down he could have died. St George's have since treated my son with an emergency shunt to release the fluid that was building up in his brain due to the tumour blocking the natural drainage channel and had a follow up operation a couple of months afterwards to remove the whole tumour which thankfully was benign but the size of a grape. Apparently our son did not tick all the boxes that were required for him to have been given a scan even though it was obvious that there was something seriously wrong going on - surely at some point knowledge should have overtaken procedure by rote. The ambulance staff told us that if our son had gone into the hospital drunk with a head injury he would have automatically received a catscan. As our son hadn't been sick on arriving at the hospital on the first occasion he wasn't taken seriously enough to have been given the scan which would have shown immediately that there was a tumour in his brain - it was so clear that I could see it when I looked at the xray. I am astonished that my son could have died or gone into a permanent coma which we were reliably informed would have happened had he not received the anti-inflamatory steroids. The doctor who referred my son from the Pru to St George's was extremely efficient but the first two we saw didn't really seem to have a clue what was going on or what to do apart from take my son's blood pressure and pulse and took no notice of our concerns over his confusion. I can only thank the staff at St George's who cared for my son superbly.

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Response from Princess Royal University Hospital

We are very sorry to hear about the problems you and your son experienced in the Emergency Department. We would like to investigate this to see what went wrong and learn how we can improve our service to avoid a similar situation occurring in future. Please contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) so that we can discuss your concerns. You can either email them on kch-tr.PALSkent@nhs.net or phone 01689 863 252.

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