"Let Down by A&E"

About: Epsom Hospital

Around midday on 13th Jan 2014 a ladder collapsed under my husband and he fell through a sheet of glass and hit his head on the wall. He had an deep 8” laceration on the back of his thigh, and several others on his head, face, torso, arms and legs. I was unable to stem the bleeding on the thigh, and took him to A&E for stitches. On arrival at Epsom the leg was still bleeding profusely, and his trousers were dripping blood, to such an extent I had to ask the receptionist for something to clean it up with. The triage nurse took us through to cubicles after having two attempts at stopping the bleeding. After waiting for an hour a nurse came and said we would have to wait our turn. For the next couple of hours we listened to a parade of sore knees, sore throats etc. going through the cubicle next to us. I was then told by a nurse there was only 4 more in front of us. Eventually I realised there was no more notes in the holder for patients to be seen, and I asked the nurse why we had not been seen. They then started to look for my husband’s notes, eventually finding that they had looked for him in reception and thought he had gone home, this despite the fact that his notes were marked as in cubicles. Panic then seemed to set in, he never saw a doctor, a nurse assessed his wounds and gave him a cursory check to see if he was concussed from his head hitting the wall. No x-rays were done, apparently because he had bled so much it should have cleaned the wounds of any glass/debris. The nurse put 10 stitches in the main laceration, but they did not have a big enough dressing, so they cut some up to cover the wound. The nurse then cleaned the other lacerations and sent us on our way. Overnight, not only did the dressing come off, but 5 of the stitches gave way. I rang our GP, but they will not stitch wounds, and was told to go to A&E. At Epsom A&E another nurse decided to put one big stitch in the wound to replace the missing stitches. I thought the wound looked infected; the glass my husband had gone through was old, dirty and covered in algae. As my husband is diabetic, I asked if he would need antibiotics, but was told no, just keep it clean. I bought Opsite dressings from the chemist on the way home to keep it clean. Within 4 days the wound was badly infected and gaping, as some stitches had pulled through the skin. 2 days to see our GP, who prescribed antibiotics and asked the nurse to dress the wound. The nurse was astonished and said it should have had at least 15 stitches. It took 3 weeks, several visits to the GP’s nurse and 3 courses of antibiotics to clear the infection, as the laceration was quite deep and infected. After forgetting about us( difficult as we were sitting in a cubicle looking directly at the desk where they sat chatting) I felt they were more worried about getting us out in 4 hours, than the level of care. If the treatment had been more thorough at A&E, the overall cost to the NHS would have been greatly reduced.

Story from NHS Choices

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