"Severe latex allergy and poor care at Royal Free"

About: Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust

(as the patient),

I have a severe latex allergy resulting in anaphylactic shock, during my pre assessment I was expected to go into a room that had various items made of latex which would have triggered my severe allergy. When I pointed this out to the nurse, she became aggressive, putting her hand up in my face & sucking her teeth & then started shouting at me to go into the room. I refused, the Charge Nurse was then called. I explained that my allergy and my reluctance to go into the room with this nurse, not only because of the risk to my health but because of her aggressive and unprofessional manner. I was asked to take a seat back in the waiting area whilst the Charge Nurse found a room that I could be assessed in.

The Charge Nurse called me in after a 30 minute wait, and wanted to take me into another room, which again had latex in, saying said, "If I promise not to use the equipment on you, you can sit next to it". This is unbelievable coming from a senior nurse. I explained that if I had a peanut allergy, I would not be expected to go into a room & for them to open a packet of peanuts & put them next to me and promise not to eat them whilst I was in there. The Charge Nurse replied "No, as it would trigger an allergic reaction!". I explained that me sitting next to something made of latex was no different.

I went & sat back in the waiting room. I then had the Charge Nurse discuss very loudly about my confidential medical details in front of a packed patient waiting room & became aggressive because I asked to be dealt with professionally and with a bit of respect and dignity as per the professional code of conduct for nurses.

I reported this to PALS who contacted the matron, whose response was, "How do you cope in the real world, you should have told us you had a severe latex allergy". My allergy is documented on the computor system, on my notes both on the cover and inside, I informed staff when I arrived in clinic & the department were informed when my pre assessment was requested. I have also attended this department on a number of occasions prior to this time & had similar poor experiences.

Despite my appointment having been for 10.00am, & I had travelled 2 1/2 hours to get to the hospital, I didn't get my pre assessment done until 4.30pm. This was after I had been reduced to tears, humiliated & put at clinical risk. My pre assessment was conducted in an office in a part of the hospital that was undergoing refurbishment. I was expected to sit in a chair, with no clothes on to have an ECG, no thought was given to my privacy or dignity, no blanket was offered, and there wasn't even a screen to protect my modesty should someone have come into the room. At no time where the details of my impending surgery discussed, I had to inform staff what equipment did or didn't have latex in.

The upshot of this is is that following having made a complaint, I have had no response to my complaint or concerns, my surgery has been cancelled x3 because I have a latex allergy. I should be having surgery now, but it was cancelled yesterday.

My medical condition requires medical intervention every 6wks, I am now 14wks on, have a severe kidney infection, passing blood and clots in my urine because my medical care has been delayed, only because I have a latex allergy that the Royal Free seem unable to deal with. I have been a patient at the Royal Free for 12yrs, so this is not a one off.

I suspect that my care is now being compromised because I have complained about my poor treatment. I believe that the care I have had from staff is unprofessional and they genuinely do not care about my patient care. I have had notes lost following exposure to latex, or incidents simply not documented. Sadly latex allergies are very common, ironically with a high incidence of medical/healthcare workers being affected by it due to the high and often inappropriate overuse of latex in a healthcare setting. I believe that I am now seen as the problem rather than my medical needs being met. I found this attitude amongst staff at the Royal Free incredibly sad especially as it prides itself on excellent care and being a leading teaching hospital.

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