"Traumatic........to say the least!"

About: Leighton Hospital / General medicine

(as the patient),

At 9. 00pm one evening in early September, I was contacted by telephone at home by the Out of Hours GP Service at Leighton Hospital, following a routine blood test, to check levels of white blood cells following the commencement of Zonisamide tablets, for functional tremor.

The GP informed me that my neutrophil level was 0. 2% and that as I felt hot and had a sore throat, I was required to come into hospital as an in-patient to have my levels checked again and an antibiotic drip administered. A side room was located and I received a further phone call at 10. 30 informing me that my bed was ready and to come straight to Ward 3/AMU, as it was unsafe for me to be sat in the waiting room at A&E, where I could be exposed to risk of illness and infection.

I arrived at the ward at 11pm, however the room was not ready and the relative’s room was full of patients, so we sat at the nurse’s desk. Sister booked me on to the system and kept us abreast of developments, as the room had to be sanitised and have new curtains etc, again due to the risk of illness and infection. Sister also noted that I had additional needs, such as requiring help with tablets and injections due to my tremor issues and that I have regular falls and stumbles due to damage from a brain haemorrhage.

Eventually I was shown to my room and had my observations and some blood taken for further testing. I also received two Doctors visits. The first Doctor agreed that my past usage of a similar medication, which had triggered the same response, was responsible for the low neutrophil level in my blood and stated that once bloods were re-tested in the morning, I could go home. The second Doctor stated that in his opinion, the safest place for me to be was at home and that as soon as the haematology results came back from bloods that were taken in the morning, I could go home.

It was at this point that I overheard a Nurse state that the patient in the room next to me had MRSA. A yellow sign was attached to the Patient’s door with instructions for people entering the room, to prevent cross-infection.

I was initially told to use the Female Toilets; however I was met at 4am outside the toilet by my night shift HCA to tell me that I had to have my own bathroom which nobody else could use, again due to the risk of infection/illness.

Although there were a few mishaps throughout the night, I was happy with the care I received and felt that the night staff kept me informed of what was happening with my care.

In the morning, the day staff arrived and the people assigned to my care were a nurse and HCA M. Up until the time I left at approximately 2pm, the nurse had not come into my room at all and HCA came in once to do my observations. HCA M clearly had a cold and was sniffling, I am not sure if he knew I was neutropaenia.

Throughout the morning, members of staff were entering my room and the room of the MRSA patient next door to me without gowning up or taking any precautions to prevent the risk of cross infection. This included staff who were bringing hot drinks and breakfast/lunch. My biggest concern was that staff were going into the room next to me and then coming into my room without washing their hands or gowning up. Considering the fuss that had been made about keeping me away from anyone who was ill, my anxiety regarding this issue increased over the course of the morning.

The patient next door also had a visit from a Physiotherapist and had Physio in the corridor area outside my room. If I hadn’t overheard that this patient had MRSA, I could have easily been exposed to this risk if I had gone to the toilet at this point.

My husband arrived at 11. 30am and asked the nurse for an update – he was told that she was still waiting for the results of the morning bloods.

At 12. 30pm, I approached the nurse with my daughter to ask if my bloods had come back. I could not understand her due to her and neither could my daughter. I asked three times and stated that I did not understand what she was trying to tell me, but the nurse just kept barking the same response at me, becoming increasingly irate.

At this point, I felt I could no longer stay in the hospital. I stated that I did not feel safe, that I felt I was at a much larger risk than I would be at home and that I needed to go home. I went back to my room and started to dress. The nurse came into my room (again with no gown, even though she had been in and out of next door) and barked at me that if I wanted to go home, I would have to sign a discharge paper. I replied that was fine and that I was sorry I just didn’t feel safe.

I still had a canula in my arm and my medications were locked up, so after half an hour of waiting, I again approached the nurse and asked if I could have my medication from the locked box. At this point the nurse shouted at me that the Doctor had my file and to “wait in my room”.

At this point, I did not feel I could stay at the hospital any longer and I was willing to leave without my medication. I removed the canula from my arm myself and started to get my stuff together.

A Ward Doctor then came to my room to discuss the discharge with me. I asked her to come in, as I wanted to explain everything that had happened and why I felt I could no longer stay. Dr was very understanding, compassionate and concerned, as at this point I was extremely upset, anxious and frightened. Dr made some enquiries and learned that I had an appointment that afternoon with a member of the Haematology Team, but that they were happy to see me as an out-patient in any case.

I apologised to Dr thanked her for her understanding, signed my discharge papers and left.

I would like to stress that this is the first time I have ever discharged myself from a medical facility or gone against anything I have been advised to do by someone in the medical profession. I am very responsible for my own health and am not the type of person to take action on a whim.

Looking back, I don’t think that the situation was helped by the fact that my nurse did not communicate to me what was happening with my care, such a fuss had been made over the night shift about keeping me away from risk, but all this was then overturned by the day staff. I was very tired, I had not slept at all during the night and I was very frightened about the risk from the infection in the next room. As a result, my anxiety levels were very high and this was just exacerbated by the words and attitude of the Nurse.

At the moment, I do not feel that I could ever return to Leighton Hospital as an in-patient. I also feel that day staff need further training and guidance on patients with neutropaenia and that current procedures regarding the care of both patients with MRSA and patients with low immunity need to be overhauled to prevent the spread of infection.

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Response from Leighton Hospital

We were concerned to read your comments about your recent admission, and are very sorry that you felt the experience was not as it should have been.

We would like to look at what happened in more detail in order to make improvements where needed.

The Matron for AMU has asked that if you would like to do this, please contact Customer Care Team on 01270 612410

Naomi Jenkins


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