"My child's 28 hours in NHS (for a splinter)"
About: Royal Hospital for Sick Children (Yorkhill) / General medicine Royal Hospital for Sick Children (Yorkhill) General medicine G3 8SJ
Posted by The Splinter (as ),
I took my 2 year old well son into Hospital and took him home sick, you may wonder what was so seriously wrong that this would be the case and you may be even more surprised to hear that he had a simple wooden splinter.
My journey started at home with a telephone call to our new 111 for advise mainly, it ended 28 hours later.
I was directed to our local Emergency Department, where I waited 3 hours to be told by a Doctor who never even seen my son that he could not attend due to my sons age. Explanation given was that they did not want to distress a child so young by attempting to remove the splinter. A visit to Yorkhill was required. We were advised to fast him of food from 3am and of liquid from 6am and to present at hospital for 8am a good 1 hour from where we live. Given that he has reflux I decided not to wake him for fluids at 6am, knowing that his system cannot process liquid without solids or thickener. I worried that this liquid intake would thus interfere with anaesthetic.
Our journey had begun.
You see what I did not know was that all children are seen at 8am and are prioritised according to surgical complexity. As a result of my sons low surgical complexity he was ultimately left for 18 hours without food and in the end 15 hours without liquid, too minor to demand any nursing attention and so largely ignored on a ward with some very sick kids. By midday and 15 hours without food or liquid I was concerned as my son had become very lethargic and seemed to struggle to focus. The solution; rather than consider surgery due to his contraindication was to offer him unthickened fluid despite my protestations. The guidelines advise that patients can have fluids 2 hours prior to surgery. The result was that my son aspirated during surgery and was returned to the ward poorly, with advise to keep him in overnight for observation and to continue with a fluid only diet. I made the decision to take him home, the hospital in my opinion had done enough.
Only in the NHS can my son be reduced to 'a splinter', where he becomes a mere sum of all his parts. It would seem that 'the system' designed around the needs of the service delivery has lost sight of the patient attached to surgical complexity.
Our NHS is suffering from system failure, where nurses and doctors struggle to balance the relentless demands of the systems, processes and numerous guidelines and at the same time be caring and compassionate towards us, the public. A system where everyone is afraid to think, where free and independent thinkers are not welcome and yet innovation (but not challenge) is expected.
I seek no recriminations as I know that everyone involved in my son's care has the potential now to be a better nurse, doctor, surgeon, anaesthetist. Because the guidelines are just that and individuals are just that and if they share their experience with others as they should, more individuals and less guidelines will be seen and even more people have the potential to be better. We are here to help you be better. Let us.
One question still bugs me - how is it that we can stick sharp needles into babies from 6 weeks old to protect them from everything out there but we think it is more compassionate to starve and withhold liquid from a child for over 15 hours and gas him to remove a splinter?