"Treated as drunks in QMC A&E"

About: Queen's Medical Centre

(as a relative),

In April, my husband was admitted to A&E at the QMC after collapsing while we were at a party. The Ambulance crew were fantastic and very reassuring. When we arrived at the hospital I was asked by the paramedic to register my husband at reception while they took my husband through.

After contacting reception, The receptionist very bluntly said “What’s up with him?”. I tried to explain, but after taking his name, I was rudely told to take a seat. Myself and a friend were called through by a nurse who questioned us about what had happened. We explained the full story that this had happened on a few occasions before and that while my husband had a few beers that night (approx. four or five, which was proven by his blood alcohol level) on previous occasions this had happened on as little as 1 beer and on another occasion, half a glass of champagne. The response from the nurse was, “You might be his wife and you his best friend but I’m sure he doesn't tell you everything”. I found this very upsetting as it was clear my husband was unwell and not paralytic as she thought he was.

During the collapse, my husband unfortunately lost control of his bowels, which I told the paramedic and nurse. At no time during the whole time did she offer her help or offer equipment for me to clean him up. The nurse in question was extremely rude and treated my husband as if he were just an inconvenience and a typical drunk on a Saturday night.

I tried to ask the nurse what could have caused these collapses this night and previously, as no one seemed to have taken him seriously on any of these occasions, which have always resulted in him be taken to A&E. She simply wasn’t interested and just said he is drunk and cant really comment on previous occasions. We were in A&E for around 4 hours during the night, I was very tired and quite upset. I was eventually offered a chair, not by a nurse but by a cleaner! While I realise they were not there to look after me, they could see I could do with a seat.

After they finished treatment of a drip, they said my husband could go. I asked for a taxi, to which she rudely reeled off a number. We left the hospital in a taxi after 4 and a half hours; my husband still not cleaned up and having to sit in a taxi like this. I was disgusted that she assumed we were just drunks (which even if we were, would not give her the right to treat us this way).

The staff stood around drinking tea at their little reception, which was opposite our cubicle for most of the night. I have no problem with this, but they certainly had time to clean him up or offer assistance. My husband felt so degraded, having to leave like that and it can’t be good that he spent all this time like this on a hospital trolley (no wander there are bugs and germs).

Also there was no mention that he should see his GP. We did see our GP and as we were very concerned about him as was our very nice GP. He was referred for investigation, we have paid to be seen privately to try and resolve this asap and have discovered my husband does have a medical condition and that this problem is not caused by alcohol but is a coincidence.

We are all extremely disappointed at the lack of care we received that night and while we appreciate that this was one night, it is one night we will not forget and we hope we never have the misfortune to have her attend to us again if this reoccurs. I’m sure that the A&E staff do an amazing job when dealing with emergencies, but just because someone has had a drink does not mean they should assume that they are drunk and realise they could actually have a serious underlying medical condition, as my husband has.

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