Patient left in A&E chair for ‘EIGHT hours with no help while having a stroke’ – by time she was seen by doctor, it was ‘too late to treat’
A patient was left sitting in an A&E waiting room for eight hours ‘while having a stroke, as medics told her they couldn’t help her’, she says.
By the time the 72-year-old was seen by a doctor, she says she was told it was ‘too late to treat’ the blood clot believed to have caused the stroke, as the window for the procedure had passed while she was stuck in A&E.
Jean Murphy, from Middleton, was so confused as she attended North Manchester General Hospital that she was ‘walking into walls’ and her ‘arm would not move’.
Now, she says she has been left struggling to walk after the hours-long wait in the emergency department.
Jean was taken by surprise as she started suffering from confusion and struggles with her movement last month, which she had never experienced before.
Jean and her husband, Peter, were alarmed enough by her deteriorating condition to call the NHS 111 service, asking for advice.
When the operator heard Jean’s symptoms, they immediately sent an ambulance, fearing she was having a stroke.
But when paramedics arrived, they believed the confusion to be a result of a water infection, and suggested the couple attend the walk-in centre at North Manchester General.
The pair arrived at around 3pm on February 1 – but they say it wasn’t until after 11pm that night until Jean was seen by a doctor.
“When my husband and I got to the walk-in centre, we were sent to A&E,” Jean told the Manchester Evening News .
“There I was, dragging my leg behind me and I sat in the waiting room.
“I was there for about three hours before I was triaged, I was told to sit down as there were quite a few people in front of me.
“I was gradually feeling worse – when I walked in to be triaged, I banged into the door, then when I went to the toilet I fell over. My judgement was really off.
“My husband told one of the staff I wasn’t well but nobody took any notice.”
By 6pm, the pair tried to ask a triage nurse for help. Around 18 people were in the waiting room at the time, according to the couple.
“She said she knew I’d had a stroke but couldn’t do anything for me,” said Jean.
At 10.30pm, a nurse instructed Jean – and a handful of other patients – to go back to the walk-in centre to see a doctor, she says.
“I think another stroke could have been coming on at the time, my arm wouldn’t do what I wanted it to, I didn’t feel right.
“I didn’t want to stay because nobody was doing anything, but I knew something was wrong.”
The doctor sent Jean for a CT scan, but said ‘the window had passed for doing anything about it if there was a clot’ – which the test results revealed to be the cause of the symptoms – she claims.
Patients can only be thrombolysed within four-and-a-half hours, a time span which lapsed while Jean was sat in A&E.
“The procedure uses injections of a medicine called alteplase, which dissolves blood clots and restores blood flow to the brain.
“Alteplase is most effective if started as soon as possible after the stroke occurs – and certainly within 4.5 hours.
“It’s not generally recommended if more than 4.5 hours have passed, as it’s not clear how beneficial it is when used after this time,” reads advice from the NHS.
“It was so scary because nobody came to see me,” Jean continued.
“My husband even went behind the scenes to tell them I was in trouble.
“That’s the first time I’ve experienced anything like that and I don’t want to again.”
“You would think a stroke was priority, not like a barber’s – first come, first served,” added husband Peter.
“I’d like to know what other people were there for.”
A spokesperson for Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust said: “Mrs and Mr Murphy have clearly been through a distressing experience which we are taking seriously.
“Our Patient Advice and Liaison team is in contact with the family to understand their concerns and to ensure that they are receiving the right support.”
After the couple launched a complaint with the Patient Advice and Liaison Service, they say that this week, a matron called to apologise for their treatment.
But they believe more could be done to ensure no one else goes through this.
“Sorry doesn’t help me at all,” says Jean. “I can’t move my left hand any more and I’m struggling to walk.
“It’s too little, too late. My whole life has changed, I used to go to the gym and can’t anymore. I used to go out and I can’t anymore.
“It just felt like no one was bothered, leaving me like that for hours. Nobody even came to look at me. They might have realised my confusion wasn’t a water infection.
“They need to do something about this, not just leave you there and hope you survive.”
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