Elderly patient left to starve after “Nil by mouth” signs left on bed…

So says the Telegraph, and unusually for that Tory comic, I have to agree.

During my 6-week stay in hospital earlier this year, I had to undergo several procedures that required me to have nothing but water or hot Bovril (I don’t drink tea or coffee which, apparently, were also allowed) – but nothing more – before them. And up went the Nil by Mouth sign.

Which was fair enough except that no-one took it down again – ever – without an argument and me insisting that they go and find someone who actually knew what was going on. And while this was happening, my undelivered food was going cold.

In fact, when I was moved onto the ward, the name of the previous incumbent stayed over my bed for days, despite my protests. This, too, was potentially dangerous for patients who might not be in possession of all their faculties or – far too common, this – don’t like making a fuss.

Make a fuss, for god’s sake! You will not – trust me on this – be popular, but you’ll likely live longer! Staying safe in hospital does not happen automatically – it should, but it doesn’t – so stay alert.

And if you’re visiting a patient who is being neglected in such a manner, you should make a fuss on their behalf. Don’t just leave them to it. If they can’t fend for themselves you have a duty to take up the cudgels on their behalf, especially if they’re family.


3 thoughts on “Elderly patient left to starve after “Nil by mouth” signs left on bed…

    • Yet another reason to stay out of hospital. At my age I’m increasingly likely to get shoved in with the old farts, and I know from experience/observation that they get really crap care except, for some reason, in the stroke unit.

      To be fair, they can be a bloody nuisance – to the other patients as well as the staff** – but that should NOT affect the quality of care. It does though.

      **I lost count of the number of times I’ve seen a nurse spend 10-15 minutes in a bay, then leave and – 10 seconds later, some bugger will press his call button! Or they’ll pester the nurse on the drugs round – they wear a red tabard with DRUGS ROUND in bright yellow, so there’s no mistaking what they’re doing – and be told she can’t help, press your button. Then they’d demand to know why she can’t help! Me, I’d poison the buggers! Possibly.

      So that patient gets ignored. Trouble is, there’s no indication outside the bays as to who’s pressed their button – so the whole bay gets left in limbo when they don’t respond. The longest I’ve seen is over 2 hours, even after I’d intervened and suggested it might be a good idea to stop gossiping outside the bay door, and actually go in and see what was needed. One day, they’ll let someone die doing that, if they haven’t already.

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