To think that a hospital could provide wound dressings to a dying woman without making her feel like shit.

(37 Posts)
nemno Tue 20-Nov-12 12:20:43

I am so cross. My mum has terminal cancer and this morning she went for her second, palliative radiation session on 2 open wounds (her first was yesterday). The local GP surgery dresses these wounds 3 times weekly, these are not minor. My mum thought to take spare inner dressing material with her this morning but she did not expect that the wounds would have been so affected by yesterday's treatment that they had oozed through to the outer dressings. The radiotherapy staff were cross with her as they do not have a bit of gauze and tape to provide to her. My poor mum, they made her feel dreadful. I could weep for her.

I know the NHS is strapped for cash but these dressings are paid for by the NHS anyway (different budget bit though , GP one). Honestly a hospital department cannot provide a fresh square of gauze? And be kind about whether they do or not?

LDNmummy Wed 21-Nov-12 01:18:46

Oh dear, that is terrible sad

mumwithovertime Wed 21-Nov-12 01:16:27

My mum died from cancer a year ago,even now I still think there were times when I wish I had spoken up more,not that I didn't some of the time but I realised that I knew her better than anyone who treated her !

nemno Tue 20-Nov-12 16:05:55

Thank you for replying

I have no idea if they are managing fine or barely coping. I imagine it is somewhere in between. The practical stuff is all being done (I have arranged all housekeeping stuff), appointments are made and attended, drugs seem to be consumed but me keeping track of that is impossible. I have so far been able to overcome her resistance to taking pain relief in a preventative way. Their relationship is not easy to watch but I can't do much there, it has always been a bit fraught. Honestly what else can an outside party do? Counseling/listening type support is a no go.

I know I could ring the nurse but I have no desire to for myself but I will certainly get the physical nursing help my mum will need, in place, in plenty of time.

Kundry Tue 20-Nov-12 15:26:29

It's really difficult when your parents don't want you to make a fuss about something or complain - I've been there with my parents and it was so hard. My mum would say 'I don't want to get anyone in trouble' - but I work in healthcare and know that the unit manager would be really grateful for the feedback and act on it. But I couldn't get either parent to see it and in the end I just had to accept that they were happy even if I wasn't and that was the main thing.

If your parents are managing OK (really managing, not just barely coping and putting a brave face on it) then it may be your Sue Ryder nurse hasn't much else to add at the moment. Could you ask your mum if she was OK with you ringing the nurse if you had any questions? Hopefully that way you could get some support and also let the nurse know when she needs to get back in with your mum.

Not exactly the same, but sounds as if they offer the same sort of support (and it may be that their area has Sue Ryder rather than Macmillan).

I think it is often harder for the older generation who don't really think to question medics or complain about care. She might be a good person to ask about dressing supplies though, so that this particular problem doesn't occur again.

nemno Tue 20-Nov-12 14:13:06

Thank you for taking an interest saintly.

She does have enough dressings at home. She also has a Sue Ryder nurse (same thing, right?) who has helped get her the blue parking badge and apply for carers allowance. They have her number and have called her with one or two questions but they think they are managing fine and are at a bit of a loss to think how else to use her. My parents are not comfortable looking outside of family for support.

Oh and the other thing is does she have a macmillan nurse? Or a nurse specialist? I know a lot of people think you need to be at the end to get a macmillan nurse, but you don't, you can be referred at any stage. The GP hospital consultant or district nurses can do the referral. It would just provide your parents with a bit of extra support and someone on their side.

Oh dear, yes that's very hard if they don't want to rock the boat.

I would ask (or suggest they do) the GP or practice or district nurses where she can get a supply of dressings so this doesn't happen again.

nemno Tue 20-Nov-12 13:54:22

She really, really doesn't want to complain (or me to). This type of thing is part of what I am finding so hard. If this were me or my DH we would handle a lot of what has gone on so very differently. As it is I have to watch the NHS delays, brush offs and outright mistakes just happen. My folks want to run things, they think they are able to but in reality they are a bit too unassuming and forgetful to get best possible care imo. I am merely here in an observer and support role (unless Dad can't make one of her appointments in which case I really do get the most out of it).

Her GP (apart from having taken way too long to refer her) is well meaning but causes distress when he disagrees with her specialist and my mum is left confused as to what to do. She won't want me to get him involved with hospital stuff.

I have had lovely support from you lot, thank you.

CMOTDibbler Tue 20-Nov-12 13:48:28

I can understand that the radiographers wouldn't have access to dressings, or be allowed to change them (in fact I know that they don't and can't), but they should have been kind about it, and someone should have tried to help by asking the ward to help her out.

Could you go with her tomorrow and ask to see the Superintendant in radiotherapy ?

Oh I know, but even a quick email or phone call to PALS on behalf of her mum might be worth while. Or even telling the GP.

OwlLady Tue 20-Nov-12 13:28:43

or has an ill relative

OwlLady Tue 20-Nov-12 13:28:30

complaining is just the last thing someone who is ill, or has an ill wants to do or even has the energy to do sad

solesource - my mum is a nurse and is very fed up with how patients come bottom of everything now. It's not always the staff (although in this case it absolutely was), the systems often do not consider patient care and staff are under so much pressure (and can indeed be disciplined for going out of the way to help a patient - my Mum was - although she kicked off big time about it, and did eventually get management to agree it shouldn't have been a disciplinary offence, think she eventually managed to get it removed).

Agree with those saying please complain on behalf of your mum OP.

SlightlySuperiorPeasant Tue 20-Nov-12 13:05:02

sad That's awful. ^ They^ might not have had any but it's a hospital so not exactly hard to get hold of gauze hmm

Nowhere near as bad but it reminds me of the time when I wasn't given essential antibiotics because 'they aren't standard medication in the maternity unit' confused

RooneyMara Tue 20-Nov-12 13:02:19

I'm so, so sorry for you and your poor mum x

I know wounds can be unpleasant but there's no way on earth they should be making her feel responsible for this.

It's their job, FFS.

Can you have a word with anyone at the practice?

It's reasonable imo that the department did not have the dressings in stock. If it's not something they use often there is no point keeping a stock. But what they should have done - and what we do in our area - is that if somebody needs something you GO AND GET IT. In your mum's case I would try the oncology ward or the surgical ward that carries out the procedures she's had. Complain - because even if there were no dressings to be had they should NOT make her feel bad. It's our failing not hers (nhs staff here)

OwlLady Tue 20-Nov-12 12:59:30

god that's awful I am sorry sad

I was in the orthopaedic clinic some months ago and a girl with a broken arm was sent home and asked to come back the day after as they had ran out of plaster and i thought that was bad.

Lots of love to you and your mum x

Pinkforever Tue 20-Nov-12 12:55:33

Sadly I have witnessed a similar situation. I had cancer a few years back and the women in the next bed to me was in severe pain following radiation therapy. She was asking the nurses of they could change her dressings as were leaking and they said no because they had none left. The poor women was moaning and groaning in pain all night. The memory of this has never left me.

I am sorry for your mum and I would make a complaint too.

Leverette Tue 20-Nov-12 12:55:30

They would be radiographers not nurses, so would have no education about wound dressings.

But they totally should have phoned an appropriate ward for advice and helped your mum in a professional and sensitive manner. Definitely worth a complaint.

SoleSource Tue 20-Nov-12 12:42:21

This kind of stinking attitude is common amongst tbe caring professional, IME sad I think the NHS are failing patients via hiring not very caring people. More bad experiences than good here I am afraid and I am easily pleased.

Lilylightfoot Tue 20-Nov-12 12:40:02

Your poor Mun thanks Please ring PALS

nemno Tue 20-Nov-12 12:39:44

Thank you everyone, I know many people are very kind and it's the horrid ones that have the most impact at times.

We do have enough dressings at home but just did not think about abnormal needs.

I wasn't there unfortunately, my mum and dad aren't the sort to make a fuss. I will be there for the rest of the week's treatments and I won't let this happen unchallenged (bit late for this issue and the damage is done ).

cozietoesie Tue 20-Nov-12 12:38:47

I would generally expect a hospital to have wound dressings in anyway, Heath. Somewhere reachable.

Your poor mom, OP. As someone else said - laugh about it with her as best you can.

HeathRobinson Tue 20-Nov-12 12:36:06

You'd think the staff would know what effect the treatment has, and have dressings in accordingly.

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