"Type 1 diabetes experience in A&E"

About: Glasgow Royal Infirmary / Accident & Emergency Scottish Ambulance Service

(as a relative),

I called an Ambulance at 1656hrs for my husband at his work place due to him being violently sick and having a (T1 Diabetic) hypo which was not stabilising. We tried unsuccessfully to raise his BS with Carb Tabs, a bar of chocolate, two cans of sugary drink, a sandwich and two packets of crisps however his blood sugar would not go above 4 and kept dropping and raising erratically.

I would have taken a taxi to the hospital but I had my young daughter with me and did not want to risk him having a seizure in the taxi.

We arrived at the Royal Infirmary, Glasgow at approx 1730hrs. I checked my husband in at Reception where I was advised I would wait about an hour before I would be called to see him which was fine.

I was called in to see my husband after approximately an hour and three quarters wait which wasn’t too much longer than expected, I was prepared to wait however long it took as long as my husband was being attended to.

When I went through to where my husband was at approximately 1915hrs. He was on a gurney, in a gown and said he hadn’t been seen by anyone yet. He was still feeling desperately unwell and said he had only had his BS taken on arrival at 1730hrs and the reading was 4. 7 for which he had not been given any glucose. He had no Carb Tabs left as he had taken them all trying to raise his BS earlier. This set alarm bells off in my head as our Diabetic dietician has taught us that we must take action to correct a BS under 5 as this could be heading into hypo. I realised that after nearly 2 hours since the last reading we must get another reading and some glucose for him immediately. There were lots of nurses around, they didn't seem to be understaffed or overly busy.

I went up to the Reception desk and asked the nurse there if I could get someone to check my husbands BS as he was type1 diabetic and his BS was low on arrival nearly 2 hours ago. The nurse rolled her eyes and without speaking or looking at me got up and whispered to another nurse who turned to me and said very brusquely he would need to wait his turn and the Doctor would be around in good time. I went back to my husband’s bedside and fished out his Blood Sugar Monitor from the plastic bag his belongings were put in and checked his BS myself.

My husband’s blood sugar had dropped to 3. 5. I went back to the Reception and told a different nurse that his BS had dropped and we needed some glucose. Again, she went and spoke to another nurse saying that I was saying his BS was 3. 5 but the records showed them to be 4. 7. I told them we had checked his BS ourselves and this was a new reading. The nurses were disdainful towards me and also unsympathetic to my husband’s needs, I was told again he would need to wait in turn for the doctor to come round. I went back to my husbands bedside but was feeling increasingly uncomfortable with the situation. I have seen my husband take a seizure before and do not wish to witness it again.

I approached the desk a third time and said that I needed a bottle of Glucogel for my husband as he was going into a hypo. A nurse finally brought him one and tossed it to him telling him not to drink it all. He did have to drink it all as even at 2010hrs when he had still not been seen by the Doctor his blood sugar had only gone up to 4. 1. I was extremely uncomfortable with the situation by this time. My husband was freezing cold and shivering as he was lying on the gurney in a hospital gown only, I asked for a bed sheet for him but was told sharply at that they had no linen.

At 2010hrs I asked a nurse , who I had observed as being more attentive and compassionate to the other patients if my husband could have another bottle of Glucogel as his BS was still low. This nurse immediately took an interest in my husband and got him another bottle of Glucogel. The nurse asked if we had been seen by anyone which we told them no. I assume this nurse went and spoke to someone about this as my husband was seen within the next 10 minutes by the Doctor who apologised for the long wait.

She was was extremely attentive and checked my husband thoroughly and got us both a cup of tea and my husband a sandwich. By 2130hrs my husbands blood sugar had raised enough to allow us to go home. The Doctor had talked about keeping my husband in overnight but we both discussed this in private and agreed that should they recommend he be kept in then he would not stay as neither of us were confident that he would receive the care and attention required.

I apologise for the lengthy letter however feel it necessary you are made aware of our entire experience. Putting aside the lengthy wait to see a Doctor which we can understand in a city centre hospital and putting aside the abhorrent attitude of some of the nurses and ignoring the minor complaint with the lack of a basic such as linen, the fundamental issue I am raising here is that a patient with a chronic condition (Type 1 Diabetes) was admitted to the Royal Infirmary and was neglected to be treated accordingly. I would like to know why I had to take his blood sugar readings myself even after asking for help and why it was so difficult to get the glucose for him after asking on several different occasions to several different people.

Our nearest hospital is RAH, Paisley which has provided us with an excellent service and unwavering care since my husbands diagnosis 7 years ago making our experience last weekend so completely unexpected and even more horrifying. I can only hope that none of my family or friends will ever have to experience the Royal Infirmary as we did.

I look forward to your response.

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Response from Paul Cannon, Head of Administration, Acute Services Division, Greater Glasgow & Clyde NHS

Thank you for taking the time and trouble to provide your feedback.

I am sorry that this posting was not acknowledged at the time, we had a break in our use of Patient Opinion, but we have now resumed doing so, and I thought it was still important to acknowledge your posting.

You raised a number of issues that are of concern and we would like to follow these up if we are can, even at this late stage. In order to do so, can you please provide further details and send these to complaints@ggc.scot.nhs.uk and we will address these for you.


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