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Interview 11

Age at interview: 58
Brief Outline: Her husband was diagnosed with pneumonia. She was happy with the nursing care he received in ICU but concerned about information and one of his treatments.
Background: Office administrator, married, no children. Ethnic background/nationality: White British.

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In 2005 her husband was diagnosed with pneumonia. He spent seventeen days in ICU, during which time she stayed overnight at the hospital with her sister. Her husband caught an infection whilst in ICU and she felt she was given conflicting information from doctors and nurses about whether it was MRSA. 

Although she was happy with the care her husband received in ICU, she felt that his medications hadn't been monitored once he left the Unit and that he was discharged from hospital with one particular drug which he later reacted badly to. He was home only briefly before being admitted to another hospital. 

She was disappointed with the conflicting information she received about her husband's infection and about a medication he was given, and has been discussing her concerns with the health professionals involved in her husband's care. 

Throughout her husband's stay in hospital she kept a diary. She praised the support she received from her family and felt that their support had helped her get through a very difficult time. Her husband has now almost completely recovered and is back at work.   
 
 

When her husband's chest infection deteriorated and he had breathing difficulties, he was...

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When her husband's chest infection deteriorated and he had breathing difficulties, he was...

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It all started off really when I had told [my husband] that he had a chest infection and he should go to the doctor. And he did go to the doctor on the 4th of May. And he came back and the doctor said to him, he gave him some tablets to take and said to go back to him if he wasn't better in four weeks. 

The same day he went to bed and he couldn't breathe at all. And I got really a little bit panicky so I phoned 999 and got a paramedic out. And they came out and they checked him out. And they did him, you know, the stethoscope and all the rest of it. And then they gave him sort of gas and air, I don't really know what they gave him, but something that he took through a mask. I was then told this wasn't an emergency and I really shouldn't have called out 999. And off they went. [My husband] spent the rest of the night sat up. He did have a few cat naps but he sat up. So then it carried on and then we were up to Sunday and he was deteriorating all the time, and he wouldn't go to the doctor, as men don't. And on the Sunday night, he went to bed and he was just in such a state, I then called [an emergency doctor]. And we had a doctor come out. Well he phoned me back and I explained the problem and he came out. And he then did a few tests on [my husband], put some things on his fingers to measure his oxygen and all the rest of it. And with that he called an ambulance and [my husband] was admitted into the first hospital. 

I learned later that he had less than 4% oxygen in his lungs at the time that he was taken then. And he was admitted into the CDU department, which I understand is a clinical decision unit. And he was there from the early hours of Monday morning until the 11th of May, which was the Wednesday. And he was then deemed to be well enough to be sent to the second hospital. I wasn't happy about it, I can tell you this. And he was there all day on Wednesday' I think it must been, I think it was' yes it was late on Wednesday. It was late on Wednesday. 

And early on Thursday morning I got up and I went straight to the second hospital to be there when the doctor's ward round came. And I was there and there were quite a few doctors in the room, well came into the room, I was already there. And the doctor said he was quite happy with his progress and to carry on doing whatever they were doing. I stayed there all day and [my husband] was beginning to get worse as the day went on really. I did pop out for about an hour. And when I got back he said that there was lots of people in there poking and prodding him about and he looked, he looked about ninety. He was extremely grey. And then a doctor came in and said that he had deteriorated and he was going to be transferred back to the [first hospital] and the ambulance would be here about five. 
 

 

Throughout her husband's stay in hospital and afterwards, she received conflicting information...

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While he was sedated he did get a secondary infection and he was put into a isolation room. And I asked a question obviously, the MRSA question, 'Does my husband have MRSA?' And I was told quite categorically, 'No he doesn't, there is nothing to worry about, he does not have MRSA'. And I was told that with my sister by my side. 

My sister wasn't told any different to me because I thought maybe they might have told her and not me because I was in a state. But, no, they didn't. And since then, because of the chain of events before [my husband] went into ICU, I was very unhappy with an awful lot of stuff that happened before. I'd written to the chief executive of the hospital, outlining my concerns and I did mention this MRSA thing because when [my husband] came home from hospital he had a district nurse come to check his tracheotomy scar and the rest of it and she came up with, about the MRSA and that was the first that I'd heard of it. So I challenged her on this and she said, no, it's definite. And I said, 'No, I'm sorry you're wrong.' So I'm arguing with the district nurse who then phones the hospital and then she phones me back full of apologies, 'I'm so, so sorry, he doesn't have it. I don't know how it got onto his notes. I'm so, so sorry.' So that was one of the things on the letter to the chief executive. And she's written back to me and she has told me, 'No, he does not have MRSA.'

Reading the ICU diary that they produced for my husband, I think that was why I was so disappointed. Not angry, just disappointed. Because when you ask, when you ask a specific question which I did, 'Does he have MRSA?' And they say, 'No', quite categorically he hasn't, there is nothing to worry about. And up to then I just thought they were all fantastic and I still do think they are all fantastic. Apart from that little glitch in the middle. And I know why they do it, because MRSA has a dreadful press but I'm sure if they knew more about it, knew what they were doing, the other thing is my husband has an elderly sister and she was coming in, kissing him, cuddling him, she's not a well lady. If I had known he had MRSA I would have just asked her not to come. He had somebody else come in who was, came in to see him and was going off to the cancer ward to see somebody else there. I would have asked him not to come in. If I had been told I would have asked him not to come in. 
 

 

Before she saw her husband in ICU for the first time, nurses explained everything to her about...

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Before she saw her husband in ICU for the first time, nurses explained everything to her about...

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Did you know much about ICU at that time? 

Not really. I knew that it was, the department is where critically ill people go and they are looked after twenty-four hours a day and monitored twenty four hours a day, I knew that. 

And did you knew that he would be attached to lots of equipment? 

Yes, I think so. You just pick these things up along the way. So I knew they were going to. But I will say, while they were doing it I was actually' I wasn't there when they put the chest drains and things in because I didn't' a) I didn't want to get in the way and time is of the essence at times like this. And so they explained to me what they were going to do and I went away. And then they came to get me. And they said, 'Look, he going to be all wired up, you know, don't be worried, everything's doing everything for him. He's quite comfortable'. They were wonderful. Wonderful. 
 

 

She wished all hospitals with ICUs also had HDUs so that intensive care patients would not have...

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She wished all hospitals with ICUs also had HDUs so that intensive care patients would not have...

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I don't know what the solution is to be honest but I have a suggestion for when people come out of ICU, when they're having twenty four hour monitoring and they are wonderful people. They must earn a fortune and they are worth every penny they get. They should have another ward where these patients are taken and put into another ward for at least a week, to be monitored, not twenty four hours as they have been, that would be totally impractical. But with trained staff knowing what they've been through and knowing what to look for. And then after that if it's necessary for them to go further, they then go onto the main hospital because I really believe, I do really believe they there are patients that come out of ICU, having fantastic care and die in the main hospital. And I believe that. 
 

 

Her husband had problems with his catheter and she felt that better communication would have...

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Her husband had problems with his catheter and she felt that better communication would have...

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On the 8th of June, no, before I go off to when he came out, several sort of niggley things happened that I was a bit cross about. 

There was one when he was on a catheter. And he had some visitors and it was really beginning to fill up, you know, the top half of the catheter was really beginning to fill up. So I thought I ought to go, before his other visitors came around, get somebody to see to it before they came. So I went down and spoke to a sister on the main desk and I asked you know, told her that this was happening. And I said, 'Is it being monitored, you know, is his output being monitored?' And she said, 'No, no, no, don't worry, just release it'. And so I did. I went back and released it. And the evening went on and visitors came and went. 

And the next morning, I was there when the nurse came in and said, 'His output is not very good, you know, we're concerned about his kidneys, would you please make sure he drinks and drinks and drinks'. So I'm shovelling drinks into him. And then I thought, they must be monitoring his output otherwise how would she know that. So I went to get the nurse and I said, 'You know, excuse me, last night while I was here, I went to speak to a sister about [my husband's] catheter being filled up and she just told me to release it. So I said, 'Whatever was in the top of there which was full, I just released into the main bag'. 

So she came back into the room and she worked it all out and she said, 'Oh don't worry about it, everything's fine, don't worry'. So you know, that could have been a potential problem if they'd thought that there was something wrong with the kidneys. It's all communication, isn't it? Total lack of communication.
 

 

She felt the medication her husband had been given caused him severe problems and, if she hadn't...

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She felt the medication her husband had been given caused him severe problems and, if she hadn't...

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But over the weeks, well over the days, he [husband] started to get really, really poorly. And I called his GP and asked, you know, to check him over because he'd been in hospital and he hadn't been well and asked about the tablets, etc. And one particular one that I hadn't' I didn't know what it was' it was called risperidone. And I asked what was that was for and the GP said, 'Look it's a very good drug for the trauma that [your husband] had been under'. At this point [my husband] was having eight milligrams a day of this particular drug. I don't know what it was for and I didn't know why he had to take it because there was no leaflet actually in the box when I brought them home. And so I didn't' I hadn't got a clue. So there I am giving him these tablets unbeknown to me, I'm actually poisoning him. 

Anyway suddenly he started to' he had this stance about him'he wasn't very strong on his legs anyway. And suddenly his knees started to bend and his arms sort of came up to sort of head height with his hands in front, stiff. And his eyes were bulging out and pushing his glasses off his head. 

So I had to get hold of the GP. And he my husband was in quite a state actually. So he had to be admitted to another hospital, a third hospital, where this risperidone drug was, they took two milligrams off on the Friday. He was taken in on a Friday, a Friday evening, where they took two milligrams off on the Friday. They took another two milligrams off on the Saturday, and they took two milligrams off on the Sunday and they took another two milligrams off on the Monday. So he was completely off this drug called risperidone. I then learned that risperidone is for acute schizophrenia and it's for paranoia.

And apparently the ICU notes that were sent to the main hospital, it was that this drug was to be checked daily. He should never have been on it after he came out of ICU. You know after say maybe a week, once he'd stabilised, I think maybe he should've been taken off then. But they just didn't. They carried on with them. And they gave me six weeks worth and said, 'He must finish the course', along with you know two lots of strong antibiotics. So his mind was gone really and' to be honest I was terrified this was going to permanent. I'm just touching wood and whistling that it's not permanent. He's back at work and he's fine. But that was through more luck than judgement. And I am going to blow my own trumpet here because I think the only reason my husband is still here is because I queried the tablets.

I think the strangest thing maybe is that I actually had to phone the GP and ask him to come and see [my husband] after he'd come out of hospital and I'm just a bit surprised that the GPs are not informed. 
 

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