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"Sligo university hospital emergency department"

About: Sligo General Hospital / Emergency department Sligo/Leitrim Mental Health Services

(as a service user),

I was admitted to ED after attempting suicide via overdose. I was in there for 2 nights. Firstly I want to say that my treatment wasn’t all bad and there were some really lovely, kind and considerate nurses and health care assistants in there. I did however have a very bad experience which has prompted this post.

I was hooked up to a drip which was attached to my bed and I had to ask to be disconnected and reconnected to it every time I needed the toilet. I would always try to get a member of staffs attention for this as politely as possible. On one occasion I decided to call for help so I called “nurse”. I repeated nurse several time and got no response at all. Bear in mind that I did this as politely as I could, I hadn’t heard other patients do did and get a response. I was also in a bed which was right beside the nurses station where all the staff would congregate. I tried again and called “nurse” several times. Again no response. I really needed the toilet so I disconnected myself from the drip and walked to the toilet.

On my way to the toilet I passed at least 3 staff members who continued to ignore me. I went to the toilet and I cried. I was so embarrassed. I didn’t want to be there, I thought about leaving. When I returned to my bed I passed the same staff members again. I sat on my bed, I knew I needed to be reconnected as I needed the IV fluids as they were an antidote to the medication that I overdosed on. I was too embarrassed to call again to ask to be reconnect, I couldn’t face being ignored again. So I reconnected myself and hoped for the best. When I texted my other half this they told me I needed to make sure I was reconnected properly. At this stage I was so fed up that I let a roar out “NURSE!!!” as none of my other tactics were effective and this way I might actually get a response. 2 nurses came to help me then and I went on a rant, shouting and crying. This is not like me to cause a scene in public.  It wasn’t actually their fault they weren’t in the room and hadn’t heard me. To be fair to those 2 nurses, they were incredibly apologetic and kind to me then.

But those 3 “professionals” heard me and chose to ignore me. I don’t care what qualification you have, are you not supposed to care for patients and at the very least to show them dignity and respect? Is that not a fundamental part of your training? I understand that ED is really busy but there is absolutely no excuse for ignoring a patient calling for help. At least an acknowledgement that I was heard and someone would be with me when they could. I went in there because I didn’t want to be alive anymore, I didn’t want to exist but I called for help. I realized I made a mistake and I called for help. When those staff ignored me I thought about walking out the door and jumping off the bridge. I could have easily done it, I doubt any of them would have noticed me walking out, they were so run off there feet. In that moment I wished I never rang for help and I wanted to be dead and those thoughts and feelings were a direct result of how I was treated.

I really hope that they improve on their patient care as its not acceptable to treat anyone, but especially someone after a suicide attempt, the way I was treated.

Another point I wanted to make was about food and water. They regularly took my bloods and on one such occasion no blood would come out - I hadn’t had anything to drink for several hours. It was very hard to get a glass of water off them, as the staff only bring you food at set times. So I went hours without a drink and I had no way of getting water for myself. When I said that maybe the blood wouldn’t come out as I hadn’t had a drink the nurse told me “it was important to stay hydrated”. If I was provided with a jug of water then this have been prevented. One of the days I missed dinner because I was brought to a different room to have a chat with a member of the mental health team. When I returned to my bed, dinner was finished and nothing was left for me to eat. So that day all I had to eat was toast, bread, toast, soup and biscuits. 

My ask is not to ignore patients and to make sure that they are fed and watered.

Again I would like to reiterate that my experience in ED wasn’t all bad and there are some brilliant caring and empathetic staff up there. My complaint is about being ignored.

Do you have a similar story to tell? Tell your story & make a difference ››

Responses

Response from Martin Jones, Alcohol & Substance Misuse Service Manager, Sligo Leitrim Mental Health Services, Health Service Executive 6 months ago
Martin Jones
Alcohol & Substance Misuse Service Manager, Sligo Leitrim Mental Health Services,
Health Service Executive

Manage the Sligo / Leitrim Alcohol & Substance Misuse Service

Submitted on 16/05/2022 at 11:42
Published on Care Opinion at 11:42


picture of Martin Jones

Dear Dbt2021,

I am very sorry to hear that you had a negative experience in the Hospital Emergency Department and on the ward and thank you for taking the time and effort to share your experiences. I have shared your story with my colleagues and asked that they comment if appropriate from their areas including Mental Health and the Emergency Department.

It is very important for us as service providers to get direct feedback like this to know the experience of those who use our service. It is in knowing this kind of valuable information that we can improve things.

Thanks again,

Martin

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Response from Edmond O'Mahony, Executive Clinical Director, Sligo Leitrim Mental Health Service 6 months ago
We have made a change
Edmond O'Mahony
Executive Clinical Director,
Sligo Leitrim Mental Health Service
Submitted on 26/05/2022 at 12:44
Published on Care Opinion on 27/05/2022 at 09:06


picture of Edmond O'Mahony

Dear Dbt2021,

Thank you for taking the time to bring your story to our attention. It is very important for us as service providers to get direct feedback like this in order to know what the experience of those who use our service is like. It is in knowing this kind of valuable information that we can improve things.

I know your story relates mainly to your experience of receiving treatment in the emergency department (ED), but clearly also you had some contact with the Mental Health Service during your stay. The experience of anyone being alone, ignored and uncared for is dreadful - and something with which we can all empathise. This is especially so as this was a serious situation and you were actively seeking help.

I have spoken with the Consultant on the Liaison Psychiatry Team who has undertaken to bring this post to the attention of the persons in charge of the ED etc.

I am very much aware that the ED is an extremely busy place, and ultimately you did gain the attention of staff, albeit belatedly - the intervention and care would not have taken any more time if it had been done at the outset when you first needed it. It is useful for staff to be aware that, outside of set mealtimes, it can be difficult for people to access drinks, etc.

I think that the point is also well made as regards you missing out on your meal because of the meeting with the Mental Health Team. The consultations with the Mental Health team members can be (necessarily) lengthy at times. Therefore it is always important for our staff to remember - if it is around meal times - to make arrangements in advance for the person's meal to be put aside and kept warm until after the consultation. Alternatively, we could return for the consultation after the meal. We will make sure that this advice is passed on to mental health team members in order to avoid this happening in the future.

Best Wishes,

Dr Ed O'Mahony

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Update posted by Dbt2021 (a service user)

Dear Dr Ed O’Mahony,

Thank you for your reply. I would like to say that the mental health liaison in ED was absolutely brilliant. She was a great advocate for me and when I told her I hadn’t eaten she requested food for me. I just want to clarify I have no issue with the mental health liaison- she was exceptional. I was ignored by other ED staff.

Kind regards

Response from Edmond O'Mahony, Executive Clinical Director, Sligo Leitrim Mental Health Service 6 months ago
Edmond O'Mahony
Executive Clinical Director,
Sligo Leitrim Mental Health Service
Submitted on 30/05/2022 at 13:10
Published on Care Opinion at 14:33


picture of Edmond O'Mahony

Dear Dbt2021

Thanks very much for clarifying that. I'm very pleased to read that your experience with the mental health liaison team was so positive. I will pass on that clarification to the team. Like I said previously, your other comments will be discussed with the ED.

Good luck in your continued recovery.

Dr Ed O'Mahony

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