AUGUST, 2015

Chaotic Emergency Department
Lack of communication
Patient left waiting for 10 hours

Patients with multiple sclerosis need prompt and coordinated treatment, not Emergency departments mixups

A women in her early thirties had lived with Multiple Sclerosis for eight years. She knows that the disease was slowly progressing. Most of the time she lived a normal life, with minimal disruption. She also knew that when the disease suddenly flared up she would need to go to a hospital and received correct medical treatment.

So, when she suddenly developed severe leg pains, stiffness and lack of coordination, she knew what to do.

She called a taxi and went straight to an emergency department. She arrived there before ten in the morning. It wasn’t busy. There there she waited. And waited.

The Emergency doctors rang her regular neurologist. He could not find her history. She passed the ‘four hour waiting period’ and Emergency Department Management ordered she be moved to different parts of the department. This would prevent her from showing up on the hospital ‘over the four hour waiting time’ computer list. The woman was moved from one cubical to another, all around the large, winding emergency area.

The Emergency doctors did not refer her to one of the hospital own neurologists. They didn’t consider giving her standard treatment for a sudden worsening of Multiple Sclerosis, a large daily dose of intravenous steroids, and some pain relief. Nursing staff did not offer her assistance with toileting, even though it was obvious she had difficulty walking. The food trolly came and went, and in the rush of transferring her around the Department, she was not offered any food or drink.

By ten o’clock that night a ward bed was finally found.

Emergency Management was delighted to ‘move her out’. She was taken up to a neurology ward, hungry, thirsty, needing to go to the toilet and in severe pain. No plan had been organised for her. No steroids had been given. She had just been left waiting for over twelve hours.

© Wikihospitals 2014

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