They’re dangerous at Arrowe Park Hospital…

By the way, I remembered, last night, about the doctor that appeared to have an urge to kill me last weekend. I’d forgotten about the bugger, I’d become so focused on getting out of there with my sanity intact – didn’t quite make it, though.

I don’t know if you know, but asthmatics should NEVER take beta-blockers. They conflict with asthma meds, especially beta-2 agonists like Ventolin (as well as dramatically worsening asthma itself), and the reaction can be extremely dangerous, even fatal.

So, Sunday morning, this doctor, or maybe a pharmacist, no-one introduces themselves any longer, pitches up on the ward. He doesn’t come and talk to me – that’d be far too easy – he stands at the entrance to the bay** and shouts! And he wants to prescribe beta-blockers for my heart failure!

**In Arrowe Park, the wards are just corridors, with 6-bed bays off to one side, as is apparently common now.

I pointed out, gaspingly, that I was asthmatic, and severely so, and that beta-blockers were seriously contra-indicated, the more so since my breathing was already so impaired that I was on 100% oxygen. Oh, he said, we have some that might be OK, would you like to try them?

Might be OK? Try them? There I was, already with three life-threatening conditions, and he wants me to put myself at further risk on the basis of a “might be OK”?

My breathing was already horribly impaired, and on the strength of a “might be” he was happy to risk reducing it to nothing?

What the hell is wrong with these people?!

And whatever happened to the concept of Primum non nocere – “First, do no harm”? To which I would add, though my Latin isn’t up to it, “Listen to the bloody patient, you dumb bastards!”

Both of which should be impressed upon the soul of every medical student before they ever get to play with real people. Because, in all seriousness, if the staff at APH had actually bothered to listen to me (or, indeed, to anyone), instead of trying to foist upon me injections I neither wanted nor needed, and constantly screwing up my – and everyone else’s – meds, I think my chances of making a full recovery might well have been much better than they probably are. Medical treatment should be a partnership, not a dictatorship.

In addition, the blanket assumption, by the majority of the nurses, that all patients are cretins, who will overdose and die unless watched constantly is amazingly wrong-headed – how do you think we survive at home with out you, you arrogant gits?

And I have no idea if ward 32B is one of the most badly run wards in the hospital (much of the time there was no shortage of staff – except when, occasionally, they vanished en mass), or whether what I experienced there was symptomatic of the hospital as a whole.

I’ve come to believe, this week, that the quality of nursing care – abysmal, basically, with one or two exceptions, as I’ve mentioned – has deteriorated so much because nursing has long since ceased to be a vocation, and become an alternative to the dole queue, or a hairdressing apprenticeship, and recruit quality has gone down the pan. As a result, it wasn’t simply that they were inept, though they were, it was that, apart from those exceptions, they were as dumb as a stump. On medical knowledge I reckon I could take on any of them and come out on top. Hell, any six of them, he said, modestly!

One baby nurse plagued the life out of one guy, asking him about once  an hour if he’d showered yet. Asking once, maybe twice, in the course of a day is OK, and he was clearly getting angry at her persistence, yet it never once occurred to him to say, as politely as he felt appropriate, look, I’m a big lad now, I don’t need you hassling me about a shower, so knock it off.

The thought never permeated her bimbo brain that I hadn’t showered for days, because I was too fucked! Bit of help might have been nice.

As I said earlier, there were six guys in my bay, and five of us seriously wanted to be elsewhere (the sixth was out of it, and spent his days  flashing!). One of them was coming down from the DTs, a nice enough guy, but completely unaware what stopping heavy drinking could do to him, and he’d panicked, and had been prescribed a whole bunch of antipsychotic drugs and anti-hallucinogenics – not that he got them, for the most part. Shower guy was routinely given a diuretic at bedtime, when it should have been given in the morning, so he was up all night peeing.

The annoying thing was that the staff nurse knew it was wrong (she said so every night!), the guy himself knew (he wasn’t an idiot), and neither had the gumption – or in one case, the balls – to say sod it, it can wait til morning. Or, if he wasn’t feeling confrontational (that, after all, appeared to have become my job!), he could just have accepted the tablets, stashed them, and said nothing which, in my experience, used to be the norm with most patients when I was on the coronary ward 16 years ago, because the twice a day drugs rounds are, quite simply, totally inadequate for the complexities of modern medicine.

The days of taking “The Mixture – 2 teaspoons twice a day,” are 50 years in the past, and that’s where the drugs rounds belong too. They have no place in a modern hospital – a better way has to be devised, and soon. You know, one that prioritises giving patients their drugs when they actually need them – just for the novelty value.

As DT guy said, he was treated far better in jail, and I, for one, believe him.

And this, I promise, is my last word on the subject of Arrowe Park and it’s substandard staff.

Not all of them were bad, I have to stress, again – for the most part, and mostly the girls from what I saw, the junior doctors were stellar, but consultant care was patchy to completely missing on the whole, the pharmacy, where the meds cock-ups originated, was a bad joke, and nursing care execrable – and it’s the nurses with whom the patients, for the most part, engage, and which colours their experience for good (really?), or ill.

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