"I was admitted with appendicitis ..."

About: Southampton General Hospital

(as the patient),

What I liked

I was admitted with appendicitis (worst pain ever). The ambulance staff were very kind and reassuring, gave me lots of gas and air and allowed me time for the pain to subside enough to make my way into the ambulance. I only wish my consultant's patient manner was as good.

What could be improved

1) Improved access to pain relief. I had to wait 48 hours for surgery and was in severe pain.There were endless delays between asking for morphine and it being administered. Is it really that difficult to get a signature from a doctor?

2) Better communication needed between staff. I was nil by mouth whilst waiting 48 hours for surgery, and despite being on a drip I was becoming severely dehydrated. When the nursing staff knew I was not on the theatre list for that day I should have been offered a drink of water.

3) Better communication with patients. My consultant and his team stood around the foot of my bed discussing me instead of involving me in the conversation and telling me what was going on. I found this particularly insulting as I teach medical students for a living and am fully conversant with the underlying clinical issues and yet was treated like an idiot. The junior doctors seemed to have better communication skills than the more senior ones.

4) Better provision of information on discharge. The information sheet I was given did not warn me that post-operative pain can be as severe as pre-operative pain (due to abdominal inflammation etc) which made my recovery more distressing than it needed to be, as I assumed something must be wrong. Following laparoscopic surgery, patients should be warned that severe shoulder pain/stitch-like pains in the chest are possible side effects. I worked this out for myself because I happen to know about the physiology of referred pain, but other patients could quite rightfully become very frightened by these unexpected pains.

5) More compassion from nursing staff. Being young and fit, I am not a vulnerable person, yet being in severe pain in hospital is still a distressing experience. A few more kind words of reassurance from nursing staff would have greatly improved my experience. As it was, only one nurse who was with me in the preoperative room squeezed my hand and told me I'd be fine.

Anything else?

I think that in my case, the NHS did what they had to do and it is entirely possible that all relevant guidelines were adhered to. However, a good patient experience requires more than this, particularly in terms of good communication and the patient genuinely feeling cared for.

Story from NHS Choices

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Response from Southampton General Hospital

Hi Crystal. Thanks for taking the time to leave this extensive feedback. We are sorry to hear of the issues you've explained, and we have passed these on to the senior nurse in the surgery team, who would be happy to discuss them with you if you would like to get in touch with us. Please speak to our Patient Advice and Liaison team on pals@suht.swest.nhs.uk or 023 8079 8498.

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