" Leg painful after lumbar puncture "

About: Aberdeen Royal Infirmary / Neurology (Brain, Spinal and Nerves)

(as the patient),

I went into Ward 40 in July for routine neurological tests. I was on the ward for noon as instructed. The only test I had all day was an eye test and observations.

I was told I was to have an MRI at 9-30 the next morning. I asked if I was going to have a lumbar punture and was told that was not decided. At 9-25 the next morning growing concerned no one had come to take me down to the MRI I asked a nurse what was happening and was told I had to make my own way.

When I got to MRI unit they told me they had called the ward at 8-30 for them to send me down. I had my scan and was back to the ward by 10-30. I waited and waited and was told a doctor would come to see me. I then had lunch and still had my coffee when I was instructed I was to have a lumbar puncture as my MRI was clear.

I thought this was silly as I had to be collected from the hospital to get home. However, desperate to know what on Earth my body was up to I accepted the situation.

I was asked if a young locum could do the LP and I said I had no objection as the last time I had one was a few years ago at Inverness hospital and it happened to be that Dr's first go at one and it was fine, no pain, headache nothing. I was reassured however that this Dr although a trainee had in fact had carried out this procedure before, which was reassuring.

I then went through the usual curling up in a ball for the procedure, as usual as per this kind of thing, a little nervous! I was cleaned and told I was having the local anaesthetic injected. After this I was slightly pricked with the needle and prodded a few times as to assertain how numb I was.

I pointed out all through that I could feel the pricking and the prodding but the locum was instructed by the other Dr to proceed. The pain was awful and to make things worse they couldn't get between my vertebra and kept hitting bone, then hit my nerve, more than once, causing my leg to jerk.

Eventually after 3 attempts for the needle to go in the other DR took over and did it first time. The pain was awful throughout though as if felt my back was not as numbed as it should have been.

I am home and today, the next day I am having sciatic pain on walking. I phoned the ward and explained what happened. The nurse got a DR and I asked 3 times for the Dr's name.

They eventually told me to hang on whilst they found out and after 21 minutes I decided I was deliberately being ignored and they didn't want to pass on the name.

This I think is what has made me so angry and now I feel I can't let this rest for fear some other poor patient has to experience the trauma I went through.

I have no objection to trainees and as I said my last experience was fine, They were very competant, but Dr's should not be allowed to put patients through the stress and the pain that this Dr did to me.

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Response from NHS Grampian

Response from ward 40 Aberdeen Royal Infirmary:

Thank you for taking the time to provide feedback following your admission to Ward 40 Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

Firstly, the Consultant in Ward 40 offers you her apology for any distress caused to you during and after your admission to Ward 40. The Consultant is sorry she was not made aware of these issues during your admission which would have given her the opportunity to speak with you at the time and resolve your concerns.

Generally patients who have to travel long distances to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary are asked to attend the hospital the day before their procedures, this is to relieve any stress that may occur due to flight or ferry delays and to ensure patients are in time for their scans or whatever procedures they are having.

The delay in the decision as to whether you needed a lumbar puncture was due mainly to the fact that I was carrying out an extra out-patient clinic that morning. A First Year 2 doctor discussed with me, immediately on my return to the ward, whether or not a lumbar puncture was necessary. The lumbar puncture was initially attempted by a final year medical student who had carried out two previous lumbar punctures under supervision. Even in the most experienced hands, if the needle is placed slightly too far laterally, patients can experience some pain but this should not cause any lasting symptoms or damage

Ward 40 carries out several lumbar punctures every week and we have a responsibility to teach the procedure to senior medial students and junior doctors. Fortunately the vast majority of these procedures go smoothly, with minimum discomfort to the patient and, although a post-lumbar headache is a recognised complication, complaints relating to the procedure itself are extremely rare. We are always grateful when patients are willing to allow trainees to carry out procedures but if a patient becomes unhappy with this they should immediately request that a more senior member of staff takes over.

All the issues you have raised will be discussed with the relevant staff on Ward 40. Once again I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to you for the distress caused following your admission.

We are always pleased to receive feedback from patients, visitors and our own staff as this provides us with the opportunity to continuously improve our services and recognise where we must do better.

Response facilitated by:

Helen Robbins, Head of Clinical Governance and Risk Management.

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