"Radiology department at Royal Liverpool/administration of letters sent out"

About: The Royal Liverpool University Hospital

(as a staff member posting for a patient/service user),

After a first scan and the frightening diagnosis of a kidney tumour (suspected kidney cancer) I was called for a second scan which included contrast iodine dye. My GP then told me that I would be routinely called for a lung scan next (as that is the place kidney cancer can tend to spread to). After approximately 7 days I received a letter from the radiology department asking me to come for a lung and liver scan with an instruction to fast for something like 6 hours. This was a surprise to me - I hadn't expected the liver to be scanned so I spent the next 7+ days in extreme worry that they had found cancer in my liver. When I arrived for the scan I was surprised to find they only scanned my lungs. When I asked about the liver the radiologist told me that this had already been done in previous scans, and that it was just the way the letter came out - a standard letter. However for me this meant 7+ days of extreme worry and an unnecessary fast! Surely the letters could be individually adjusted to suit the patient in question?

After the removal of my right kidney in May I had to attend a scan after 6 months to check the health of my remaining kidney. In advance of this scan I was sent for a blood test which I was told was necessary for the scan. When the letter came for the scan, its title was 'Renal scan with contrast dye, both'. I was a little confused about the 'both'. When I arrived for the scan I asked the radiologist what she was going to scan today. She said "Your kidneys! " - I said "I only have one". This seemed to be a surprise to her and she said that therefore she wouldn't be scanning the other side. She said, however, that she had to now check my kidney function number from my last blood test, because, she said, if it was too low I wouldn't be able to have the iodine dye, which is damaging to the kidneys. She then went on to reveal my kidney function number.

I wasn't expecting this to be revealed to me via a radiologist. This had already been an emotive issue for me because at a prior appointment with my oncology nurse the number had been disclosed to me and its lowness had already been a source of worry to me! I was actually shocked and unprepared for her to reveal that my kidney function number had gone down, and this caused me further worry.

I went on to have the scan because I was still within the acceptable range for the iodine dye.

I ask - was it the radiologist's role to discuss this with me?

Another issue is with texts received recently - Something like this: "RLBG After your recent outpatients appointment how likely would you be to recommend this service to friends or family? Rate likely 1 - Not likely 6"

As I had attended both the Radiology department and the Linda McCartney Psychological Services department within the same week it was not clear which service it was asking me about. I replied initially about the Radiology department as I did have a grievance, but as I felt extremely impressed by the psychological services I felt concerned that they might get the bad rating! I did make a text to this effect. Surely the RLBG text surveys must need to include the name of the department it is referring to?

Summary of the problems encountered:

1 - The letter was sent out with a request for me to have both kidneys scanned. Why, when I only have one?

2 - The radiologist seemed unaware that I would only be having one kidney scanned. Had I said nothing, would I have received unnecessary radiation?

3 - Why did the radiologist reveal my kidney function number to me? Even though she was unaware of how this would be upsetting to me, surely it ought not be her role?

4 - Why do survey texts not include the name of the department they are asking about?

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Response from Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust

Thank you for your comment. We are sorry that you have had some negative experiences with us. We would like to be able to speak to you so we can investigate your concerns and provide you with responses to your questions. Can you please get in touch with us so we can do this? Our patient advice and liaison team can help - they are on PALS@rlbuht.nhs.uk or you can call 0151 706 4903/2265 or typetalk 18001 0151 706 4903/2265. We hope to hear from you. Thanks,