"(a) ENT operation at the day care ..."

About: Darent Valley Hospital

(as the patient),

What I liked

(a) ENT operation at the day care unit in June 2009 & was impressed with the care & after care I received - nurses great, rang me at home to see how I was; provided leaflets & info on who to call if any queries; I did call the ward at Gillingham with a query and was answered quickly and courteously (b) appendicectomy Oct/Nov 2009: a less happy experience. I was admitted one night (Rowan) and not operated on till a day later - appendix had perforated. Surgeons never told me their names, most of them couldn't be bothered even to address me but just addressed their comments to gangs who came round to gawp. I was not feeling very well at the time or I would have complained. One surgeon was particularly offensive - changed my consent form after i had signed it (OUTRAGEOUS) & told me he would take out other things e.g. "shrivelled ovary" if he saw it without waking me up to ask permission. I said he was not to dare do any such thing. I was never told who did the operation so out of all the different surgeons i saw I don't know who did it. Pain continued without improvement but i asked to go home after a few days because i didn't know any better and thought i would rather be at home and getting some sleep. Nobody discussed pain levels with me, or possible issues conseqent to this operation. Phoned Rowan ward to ask about pain and was told to go to GP. One week later admitted again (thankfully on a different ward - Redwood) with infection - dr in A+E "surprised" app had been done laparascopically as it was perf'd. Discharge note erroneously stated it had been an open procedure - not sure if genuine mistake or deliberate to cover tracks. Infection cleared up with antibiotics and i made surgeons on that ward talk to me as i was less ill. However discharged by a young doctor who had not even looked at me with only paracetamol - i still had warm red swelling, so asked to see this dr who said i needed further antibiotics. Luckily i am able to be assertive but what if i hadn't?

What could be improved

SURGEONS need to learn to treat patients as human beings. Nurses were great, catering/cleaners all good, and some of the doctors were OK but on the whole I was shocked at the attitude of surgeons to patients. I had heard about this before but never had the misfortune to experience it. The impression you receive as a patient is that you should not dare to speak to the surgeons and that they think you are the lowest of the low.

Anything else?

I work with clinicians and they were mostly unsurprised at my comments about surgeons, but just because it is usual does not mean it is acceptable.

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Response from Darent Valley Hospital

I am really sorry to hear about your poor experience, especially as regards surgical communication and consent, as well as the problems you experienced with pain control. If you would like to contact me (jenny.kay@dvh.nhs.uk) and let me know your name I can investigate these issues further. Please be assured however that these comments will be passed to the surgical directorate and shared with the doctors and nurses so that they can be aware of the importance of these matters to patients in future.

Jenny Kay, Director of Nursing

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