AUGUST, 2015

Repeated delays for surgery
Deep vein thrombosis
Inadequate anticoagulation

Imagine waking up to find the surgery had been cancelled.

When Bill booked a skiing weekend, spending unnecessary weeks in hospital were the last thing on his mind.

Bill had enjoyed the sport as a teenager. Unfortunately, Bill was not as agile as he had been in his teens. One the first day he slipt and fell over.

“I told you not to try and keep up with the kids” warned his wife.

Bill was quickly taken to a nearby hospital. A scan showed a broken leg. Surgery was required needed. He was admitted and sent straight to a ward.

Where he waited. And waited.

Each day the doctors told him he was ‘on the theatre list’.

He was fasted from midnight for two days running, only to find that theatre was unaccountably delayed.

On the fourth day he was taken to surgery.

‘This is it at last’ he thought.

He had a general anaesthetic and woke up in recovery.

Only to find that his operation had still not taken place.

Theatre had been ‘too busy’ to do the operation. The pain was continuous, and numbed only by medication that made him both sleepy and constipated.

His wife visited him every day and was furious.

“Why hasn’t my husband gone to theatre!” she asked the nurses every day. “He’s got a broken leg for goodness sake. Isn’t that what hospitals are meant to fix?”

Finally, on the fifth day after the accident, Bill went to theatre. His surgery took place and he returned to the ward.

Finally, he though, I can recover then go home.

The doctors advised him to stay in hospital for several days after the operation, to make sure the wound healed, and to have intravenous antibiotics. Reluctantly he agreed. He had been ringing work daily. Bill was a tradesman who was self employed. Jobs were being cancelled and bills were not getting paid.

After surgery his wife noticed his calf was becoming swollen. She rang a girlfriend who was a nurse and asked for advice.

“Is he getting regular injections to thin his blood while he is in hospital?” The wife did not know, so she ask the nurse.

The nurse asked for the name and dose of the ‘blood thinning injections’ Bill had been given daily.

“That’s a tiny dose,” she advised.

Your husband is over six foot and weighs a hundred and sixty kilos. When I’ve had patients your husband’s size, I’ve given them four times that dose. Ask if you can get a doctor to increase the dose. And get them to look at his leg. He might have a blood clot”.

“Stop worrying” she was told.

A week after surgery Bill’s leg was still swollen and also very painful.

Concerned, his wife took him to see their GP. The Doctor took one look at the man’s leg, and ordered an ultrasound. It showed three large blood clots in Bill’s leg.

Bill was told he would need to go on a long course of a very powerful blood thinning medication. He would need blood tests every month to check the drug levels in his blood. 

The side effects of continuously delayed theatre went on for six months.

The hospital denied any responsibility in wrongdoing.

No action was changed to change hospital procedures, to make sure doses of anticoagulation medication was appropriate for patients body size.

© Wikihospitals 2014.

Delayed Surgery for Patients With Femur and Hip Fractures – The Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery June 2011.