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Older patient left without food or drink for 20 hours in hospital

A hospital patient was left without food or drink for 20 hours on one of the hottest days of the year when his operation was delayed.

Colin Sargent, 75, went into hospital to have a myringoplasty, an operation to close a hole in his eardrum, last Friday morning.

He was instructed not to eat or drink from 10pm on Thursday as the procedure was scheduled for between 7am and 3pm the following day.

But Mr Sargent, who lives in Stapleton in Bristol, was not seen until 6.15pm - meaning he went without food or water for 20 hours before the operation.

Temperatures in Bristol on Friday soared to up to 30C.

Mr Sargent, who has recently had a pacemaker fitted, said he arrived at St Michael’s Hospital in Bristol at 7am on Friday and was informed six others were also scheduled for the same operation.

He told the Bristol Post: “I had seen younger people come in after me and have the operation, but I was left waiting.

“No one could tell me why it wasn’t happening and I was becoming very dehydrated. The nurses were kind and asked if I was OK but I had started to feel hot and dizzy.

“One of them rang down and asked if she could give me some water but was told she couldn’t.

“She brought me a polystyrene cup with a half inch of water at 4pm and told me I could only wet my lips. As I had recently had a pacemaker fitted, I thought I would be made a priority but no one knew what was going on.”

Mr Sargent was taken into surgery. After the procedure, he was kept in overnight and put on a drip.

None of the nurses told Mr Sargent that he was suffering from dehydration, but he claims he felt “hot and dizzy”.

James Rimmer, chief operating officer at University Hospitals Bristol Trust, said: “We are concerned to hear that Mr Sargent is unhappy with his experience at our trust.

“We are committed to providing the best possible care for all of our patients. Mr Sargent’s operation was delayed by a few hours because another patient suffered complications and needed to be prioritised ahead of him.

“All patients are monitored regularly for signs of dehydration, especially in hot weather, and appropriate actions are taken if required. Patients undergoing surgery are required to be nil by mouth before operations to avoid complications with the anaesthetic.

“Mr Sargent has not raised his concerns with the trust. We recommend that any patient with concerns about their treatment speak to the trust’s patient support and complaints team, so that a thorough investigation can take place and any outstanding issues can be resolved.”

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Readers' comments (10)

  • James Rimmer, chief operating officer at University Hospitals Bristol Trust, said:

    Bla, Bla, Bla, Totally nonsensical management waffle-speak from an absolute clown !

    The situation as described is totally unacceptable and represents an appalling standard of care !

    GET IT JAMES

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  • "Totally nonsensical management waffle-speak ..."

    Jenny Jones

    if the report is accurate, clearly this manager has no idea what he is talking about in this instance and such an attitude towards patients and their care is high dangerous and totally unacceptable.

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  • michael stone

    I keep being told that this type of thing never happens.

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  • Could also be that he is just a trouble maker. There is - in truth - little difference between the scheduled time of 1500, and the actual time of 1815.

    PErsonally I would have been suggesting putting up a drip and giving mouthwashes for comfort...

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  • Why is NBM so long? Surely clear fluids need only be stopped up to four hours pre-procedure as they will have cleared the stomach in that time and there will be minimal risk of aspiration. I was under the impression that evidence suggests that we keep patients NBM far too early. Why weren't I/v fluids started?

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  • Anonymous | 25-Jul-2013 5:11 pm

    Trouble maker ? What a disgraceful comment !

    "He was instructed not to eat or drink from 10pm on Thursday as the procedure was scheduled for between 7am and 3pm the following day.

    But Mr Sargent, who lives in Stapleton in Bristol, was not seen until 6.15pm - meaning he went without food or water for 20 hours before the operation."

    Do you have a serious problem with comprehension ?

    This patient was starved and deliberately dehydrated for at least 20 hours and you believe that he is a "trouble maker"

    If I ever meet you I will ensure you know exactly what "trouble" means!

    I would -if you are a "registered nurse", do everything within my power to ensure you were struck from the register !

    "


    "

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  • James Rimmer, chief operating officer at University Hospitals Bristol Trust, said: “We are concerned to hear that Mr Sargent is unhappy with his experience at our trust.

    That quote speaks for itself! it is beyond parody.

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  • As a pre operative assessment nurse we give fasting advise in line with national guidelines set by Royal college of Anaesthetists
    100% healthy elective adult patients should be allowed to drink water or other clear fluids until 2 hours before the induction of anaesthesia.
    100% healthy elective adult patients should be allowed a light meal until 6 hours before the induction of anaesthesia.
    At my trust we have 2 admission times 8am (morning surgery) therefore NBM midnight (most in bed by this time) and water only before 6am, we admit afternoon list patients between 12-1pm for approx. 2pm start and advise a light breakfast before 7am then water only until 2 hrs before admission time.
    As per NICE guidelines renal function is checked in everyone over age 60 whatever grade of surgery and in adult patients of any age who have renal/cardiac problems or who are on antihypertensive medication then any abnormal results are flagged for anaesthetist attention.

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  • The trust should learn from this and practice evidence based medicine re nil by mouth, ancient practice and without foundation. The other thing we do our heat wave plans but what have we put in them about such delays due to theatre capacity during extreme heat which in many trusts is as bad as the bed capacity. We should go away and ask our emergency planning officers this question. Risk of dehydration and surgery = higher risk of DVT get one of those and it costs you as an organisation,.
    Not acceptable and I will be going in tomorrow to ask my trust what have down to review this

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  • My son had a lacerated ligament in his finger, was prepared for theatre-no food/drink for the next day. That day came and went-still no surgery. He was allowed to eat a light meal, then nothing by mouth after 10pm. Next day the long wait-no food or drink and no op'. This went on for a further 2 days, He was told it was because the theatre was taken up with more urgent cases, ie children with cuts/bites to their faces, so he waited patiently but after a week, he asked to see the Consultant- Anotehr starving, dehydrated day and at last the, by now shrivelled, ligament was at last fixed, "as best they could" but he "would have some restriction in extentions of the finger due to the shrunked ligament" It was a long time before the finger was restored to 3/4 of its former glory and a long time before his general health reastoes. An elderly person would have expired, or be so emacipated and dehydrated they would be put on the LCP

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