"Asthma and out of hours"

About: Gloucestershire Royal Hospital

My 4.5yr old had been given liquid salbutamol following a wheezing episode by our GP. It was a one off wheezing episode and medicine cleared it up. Over the next few weeks I went backed forth out of hours as I could hear what I can only describe as a feint drag to his breathing and he still was not well, there was no more wheezing. I was told several times he might have a chest infection, although 3 out of hour DRs told me his chest was clear when listened to, we were prescribed antibiotics. I repeatedly discussed that he was complaining of stomach pains and he had previously been wheezing but this was twice dismissed, on our third visit to out of hours the dr checked his oxygen levels and he was immediately admitted with low blood oxygen, after a few hours on the ward there was no improvement and he was taken straight to HDU, I had no idea what was going on, he was pumped with drugs to help him breathe. It was terrifying for both of us. I spoke with the nurses and discussed his symptoms. They nodded and then explained that for several weeks he had been having a silent asthma attack, I wasn't going mad after all! He was discharged a few days later on massive doses of medicine and several inhalers, and an asthma plan, he has suffered eczema since he was an infant so they advised it was to be expected that he might get asthma. I kept trying to explain that I didn't feel I could trust my judgement on using inhalers and we were told that we will find our way with it and get more confident. I felt it was too soon to be sent home and terrified that my child might die as he wasn't wheezing so how do I know what his tummy pain means? I felt like I was heavily reliant on a 4 yr old telling me how he feels. How would I know if he was having an attack? Within 24 hrs we were back in hospital, his asthma plan reassessed and we were advised to maintain a higher level of steroid. We left, again terrified but not wanting to cause a fuss. In all I felt I was repeatedly dismissed at a&e, they didn't even look at his tummy pain and didn't even seem aware that not all asthma comes with a wheeze. I didn't feel confident using his inhalers, despite that we 'sort of' understood asthma, we didn't feel we were able to judge when it was needed. I would have like more time with him stabilised at hospital rather than sent home and hoping we get it right. I ended up calling the asthma helpline for advice and using google to see what I should be looking for when my child gets unwell. Ideally I wanted the help and support the asthma helpline gave from the hospital. The nurses were great, the Drs on the ward were good too, the out of hours seemed to have very little / no understanding of silent asthma. I feel now that my determination meant he didn't die. I was made to feel over protective and maybe even a little paranoid as well as feeling a bit of a time waster until they thought to check his blood oxygen.

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Response from Gloucestershire Royal Hospital

Hello there, Sorry to hear about your son's asthma - it must have been a very difficult time for you all. Have you spoken to our patient liaison (PALS) team? They can help you get the right help and advice you need. You can either call them on 0800 019 3282 (Free phone) or email pals.gloucestershirehospitals@glos.nhs.uk. We will also pass your feedback on to the A&E teams involved. Thank you again for bringing this to our attention. Best wishes The team at Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

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