"My experience of DRI"

About: Doncaster Royal Infirmary / Accident and emergency Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust

(as the patient),

I was hospitalised for three days in December 2008 in Doncaster Royal Infirmary. I had been suffering from a fever which had “came out of the blue” as it were, on that day my symptoms included very high temperature, sweating and uncontrollable shivering. I thought bed rest and keeping warm was the thing to do. I got out of bed again about 9pm and as I watched TV, I felt myself becoming more and more comatose, until my system seemingly collapsed. My wife telephoned for an ambulance and called on a neighbour.

The ambulance arrived in remarkably good time and the two male paramedics brought me back to a semblance of consciousness, asked my wife some questions; got me out of the house and into the ambulance which took me to the DRI A&E Ward. I thought the paramedics were very professional, being very competent and caring,

Being a Saturday night the A&E staff were run off their feet; but nevertheless I was attended to fairly quickly. I was divested of half my clothing and given paracetemol which cooled me down and I started to feel better. Had a blood sample taken and a porter took me to X-ray, stayed with me until I had my chest looked at; then took me to the assessment ward where I was kept in overnight. The ward staff monitored me throughout the night, taking readings of my temperature and blood pressure, as well as dosing me with paracetemol.

The following morning I was seen by a Consultant and staff who asked a lot of questions, but I do not recall being given a physical examination. But I have to admit I could be wrong on this matter. The Consultant told me he thought that I had a chest infection, despite the x-ray being clear and absence of any physical evidence indicating a chest problem. I was put onto a course of antibiotics, covering the possibility that the chest infection was bacterial. The course was 1500mg of Amoxycillin and 1000mg of Erythromicin daily.

The first day passed peacefully until mid afternoon when I started to shiver uncontrollably again and a nurse was called who gave me paracetemol and got me to lie in my bed with a portable room fan blowing on me, which brought about an improvement but confirmed that I was not “out of the woods”. Monitoring of my temperature/blood pressure proved this point T=39+ and BP=90/65! The day passed into night when I had a further shivering incident which was treated as before.

Next day a change of nursing staff brought its own problems. I had to wait for the Consultant to give permission to take my personal medications which are many and varied. I had left my home in such a rush that I did not realise my medication was not in the packets as prescribed, so I had to explain to a pharmacist what each was for and the relevant dosage. Only then did I get my normal daily medication at 2pm. Other problems resulting from the staff change was some loss of continuity of care. My BP was not sorted out until mid morning (Monday) when I was put on an electrolyte drip (500ml) which made up for the dilation of blood vessels which was caused by my high temperature. After this my blood pressure started to normalise to 120/80. This day I found my movement restricted, as I was classed as “too poorly”- no walking to the toilet 12m away, which I had done freely the day before. I did find this irksome, but did what I was told.

The next morning, another change of nursing staff who were much more tolerant and I was allowed to stretch my legs and walk along the corridor several times. My temperature had normalised at 37.3 C and BP 122/82, my appetite was good and I ate all that I was given and I felt fine. The Consultant came to see me when I was cleaning myself up, but the staff nurse got me to my bed in good time. I was asked how I felt, to which I truthfully said, “fine!” After further questions relating to my problem, the consultant said I could go home, but I was none the wiser as what had been the matter with me; but he stipulated that I had to finish the antibiotic regime. After this I had to sort things out with the staff nurse such as my personal medication, etc. As I had no transport, she kindly fixed me up with a complimentary taxi and was soon home. On the whole I thought the ward staff were very dedicated and caring including the younger generation.

The lessons I have learnt are:

A) Always take all your personal medication into hospital (AND the prescribed dosages) with you at the outset; or the very earliest thereafter.

B) If a fever strikes suddenly and for no identifiable cause DO NOT try to DIY-seek professional medical advice straight away. To delay may mean you will be hospitalised and the state you may be in could prevent accurate diagnosis. This fact was brought home to me two weeks later, when I had a sudden relapse and although my own surgery was closed, I was able to see an emergency doctor at Regent Square. This doctor immediately identified my problem and gave me medication on the spot to treat the condition and eradicate the fever. I also saw my own doctor as soon as possible, who got to the root of the problem and successfully treated that.

C) Beware of the private tariff TV/telephone ward facility- it costs £5 a day and a telephone call is charged at 46p/minute.

I’ve had worse experiences than this visit to the DRI. It is the only place to be, should you suddenly take ill ( not too seriously) and the hospital is your only resource to medical assistance/advice.

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