AUGUST, 2015

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

Emergency departments mix ups leave Multiple Sclerosis patients in pain.

‘Nadine’, a women in her late thirties, had lived with Multiple Sclerosis for six years.

She knew that the disease was slowly progressing. Most of the time Nadine 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, Nadine 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.

And there there she waited. And waited. And waited.

The Emergency doctors rang Nadine’s regular neurologist.

He had not seen her for a while and could not locate her medical history.

By now Nadine passed the ‘four hour waiting period’ and Emergency Department Management anxiously ordered nurses to move her to different section of the department.

Emergency was a rabbit warren of cubicles, radiology labs and short term medical beds. Moving patients prevented them from showing up on the hospital’s ‘over the four hour waiting time’ list.

This attracted a large fine from the government. Politicians were keen to have a good set of public hospital figures to show the public how well they were running things.

Nadine was shunted from one cubical to another, all around the large, winding Emergency Department area. Nursing staff came, did a quick set of obs then ran off.

The Emergency Doctors did not refer her to one of the hospital own neurologists.

Despite the standard treatment for a relapse of Multiple Sclerosis being a large daily dose of intravenous steroids and some pain relief, no one took the initiative to suggest this.

Nursing staff did not even offer to help Nadine going to the toileting, even though it was obvious she had difficulty walking.

The food trolly came and went. In the rush of transferring Nadine around the Emergency Department, she was even not offered any food or drink.

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

The Emergency Department Management were delighted to ‘move her out’.

Nadine 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 medications had been given.

Nadine had just been left waiting for under twelve hours.

© Wikihospitals 2014

NHS trust bosses slam £600m hospital fines over patient targets – The Guardian March 2016