"Unexplained abdominal pain"

About: Derriford Hospital / General surgery

(as a relative),

My 20 year old daughter was admitted to hospital through A&E at the end of January with sudden, severe abdominal pain.

She stayed in hospital for 6 days during which time she had an endoscopy (which was clear). She was sent home feeling no better with an appointment for an ultrasound scan 2 weeks later and consultant outpatient appointment in 6 weeks.

We had no complaints about her care in hospital. She came home unable to eat, drink or move without severe pain and so after a few days contacted her GP who saw her and sent her back to the medical admissions unit. Her experience this time was completely different, the consultant made her feel like a time waster and told her she should not have come back to hospital and that they would perform an ultrasound scan which would be negative and then they would send her home again.

She was extremely distressed by the attitude of the consultants 'team' and despite being on morphine, co-codamol and diclofenac whilst an in patient, they wanted to send her home feeling no better on co-codamol and diclofenac only, however eventually they agreed to a 3 day supply of morphine, as long as I supervised, which made us both feel as though they didn't trust her.

My daughter said that she didn't want to ever have to see that consultant again. 5 weeks later and no better - so now over 2 months on bed rest in constant pain despite painkilling drugs including morphine prescribed by GP.

We had an outpatients appt with the original consultant who was lovely, said we may not find a reason for the pain but referred her for a colonoscopy and to see a GI specialist. The appt for the colonoscopy was for 5 weeks and during this time my daughter's condition remained the same.

She had now gone 12 weeks without proper food, on bed rest and had lost over a stone in weight (something none of the doctors had commented on). The only reason that she hadn't lost more was because she was surviving on lucozade sport and protein milkshakes that I bought from the supermarket. My daughter, myself and her GP (who has been fantastic throughout) were by this time becoming very exasperated and concerned at the lack of progress and despite the GP trying to bring my daughters appts forward, she was unable to.

Then her pain became worse and was unbearable. The GP sent her back to medical admissions where I expressed concerns as a nurse about whether they had explored every avenue for a diagnosis as a third and different consultant was now complaining about her being readmitted. He asked for a meeting with myself (though my daughter is an adult) to discuss her case and despite my daughter refusing permission for him to discuss things without her being present, a nurse barred her from entering the room where he and I were.

I felt that he spent the next 45 mins fishing for information that he could use to pin a psychosomatic diagnosis on her, however he did agree to a MRI scan. He also told me at length how he was going to speak to the GP, have my daughter barred from being readmitted to hospital and complain about the GP prescribing co-codamol and morphine, which I pointed out they were prescribing in hospital.

He said my daughter had unexplained abdominal pain and that she should have a referral from the GP to the pain clinic (this info was not on her discharge letter) and they discharged her on paracetamol and diclofenac. She was in tears and how they expected her to cope on these pain killers, the doctor who was part of the consultants team (I didn't know his name because he had no badge on) just shrugged his shoulders and left.

After her discharge her GP spoke to the pain clinic, and we now know that that my daughter may have something called visceral hyperalgesia related to irritable bowel. They may have been hinting at this during her admissions, but communication was so poor that even as health professional myself I could not possibly have understood what they were saying and their attitude towards my daughter was dismissive, with no holistic care, making her feel very much as though she was not believed.

She is now on specialist pain relief feeling a little better, but she has lost nearly 4 months of her life. I am a strong person, but I have found our experience of hospital medical staff to be the most stressful and upsetting of my life and my faith in my local hospital is at rock bottom.

My main issue is one of poor communication, together with a lack of care for the patient, a judgemental attitude - and the last consultant broke patient confidentiality deliberately.

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