"I had two surgeries on my right ..."

About: The Royal Victoria Infirmary

(as the patient),

What I liked

I had two surgeries on my right eye in relatively quick succession, the first on Tues 11/08/09 and then the second on Tues 08/09/09.

When on the ward, the nurses were very helpful but not too pushy. They were sensitive to my needs and reacted accordingly. Especially after my surgery, they were quiet and respectful and made me feel as comfortable as possible under the circumstances. I would like to thank the nurses on night shift of the Ophthalmology dept, particularly one staff nurse. I would also like to thank the porter who brought me back to the ward after my second surgery. He was lovely and understood how vulnerable and scared I felt. He told me exactly what was happening, in a quiet tone, and explained what he wanted me to do. The consultants explained my surgeries in such a way that made me feel more relaxed and confident in their abilities.

What could be improved

When I went to Eye Casualty on Mon 10/08/09, I had to wait 3hours and unfortunately the nurses lost my notes. Only after my father (who brought me to casualty) mentioned that we had been waiting a while did they realise this. I was then taken through to be assessed. The first doctor who saw me was new to the department and after a look at both eyes, went to get the opinion of the registrar. The male registrar was rough and very rude to me, getting rather annoyed because I had left it 10days from the first symptoms to seeking help. I explained to him that I had no idea of the seriousness of my injury and I had been away on holiday to Germany for 4days. Also when I returned I was diagnosed with Swine Flu and went into quarantine for 5days. I went to my Ophthalmic practitioner on the next available day, who sent me straight to Eye Casualty. The male registrar tried to explain everything but a breakdown in communication left me scared, worried and frustrated. A female registrar (who was responsible for the new doctor) came to see me and rather brusquely told me that I had a detached retina which required surgery to reattach it. When I got upset, she questioned why and I was made to feel stupid. I was then taken back out to the waiting area and was surprised when another nurse came to take me up to the ward, as nobody had told me that I would be having surgery as soon as possible. Nor had I been told how my retina had become detached, or what the surgery entailed, at this point. I did not see the consultant until the morning of my surgery, and so consequently spent all night worrying. I appreciate that this surgery was not out of the ordinary for the staff, but it was for me! I was not reassured that everything would be ok until I spoke to the consultant. It was not until after the second surgery that I realised my condition was very rare at my age (25).

Anything else?

The nurses gave me a basic list of “dos” and “don’ts” just before I was discharged, which was helpful. But I think a more comprehensive list of what other patients experienced after the same surgery would have been even more useful. Also, tips on how to "posture" and objects to make life easier as well. I would recommend to anyone having eye surgery that they check out the RNIB website and look for forums to find others and benefit from their experiences. Despite the lack of decent "bedside manner" from those in Casualty, my stays in the RVI were relatively stress- free under the circumstances.

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Response from The Royal Victoria Infirmary

On behalf of the Eye Department we would like to apologise if you felt that the service within Eye Casualty was not up to standard. We are reassured to hear, however, that your treatment after that point both by the consultant and by the ward staff was to your satisfaction.

In relation to the experience you had within Eye Casualty there was clearly a breakdown in communication as the situation along with your treatment plan should have been explained fully and agreed with you so that it was completely understood. I hope that we can reassure you that in situations such as this we strive to learn from such feedback, and the department will endeavour to ensure that the junior medical staff involved are adequately trained in bedside manner.

We would also like to thank you for your kind comments relating to the nursing and portering staff – we will make sure that these are passed on.

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