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Health / Health board told to apologise after patient suffers pain and distress in hospital

Gilbert Bain Hospital. Photo: Shetland News

NHS SHETLAND has apologised following a complaint it received over the care given to a patient who suffered “pain and distress” at the Gilbert Bain Hospital in Lerwick.

The complaint was upheld this month by the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO).

NHS Shetland said it was “deeply sorry” for the family’s experience in hospital.

The complaint centred around attempts to insert a urinary catheter in the patient, who had bladder cancer and had been admitted to hospital experiencing pain and discomfort.

The complainer, who is the patient’s daughter, said the decision to try to insert a catheter was unreasonable and that the woman was in pain and shouting for them to stop.

The ombudsman said it took independent advice from a general surgeon and found it was reasonable that medical staff tried to insert a urinary catheter.

“However, we found that the repeated and distressing attempts to do so were unreasonable,” it said.

“We considered that the first attempt to insert a urinary catheter should have been carried out by a more senior member of medical staff.”

The ombudsman added that the patient should have been given better pain relief/sedation before any further attempts were made, and that medical staff had failed to recognise her distress and to respond to her clear withdrawal of consent.

To put things right in the future, the SPSO said: “Patients, at the end of their life, should only undergo invasive procedures and interventions if they will ease their distress or pain.

“When such procedures are carried out, it should be by medical staff with an appropriate level of expertise; with appropriate consent from the patient; and only after adequate pain relief has been administered.”

In response, NHS Shetland medical director Dr Kirsty Brightwell said: “We are deeply sorry that this patient and her family had such a poor experience in the Gilbert Bain Hospital.

“NHS Shetland has supported the team involved to review what happened and we undertook a thorough investigation.

“We upheld the complaint in full and offered our unreserved apology. We also recognised the clinicians’ intentions were good as they aimed to reduce suffering.

“We welcome the SPSO investigation and the opportunity to scrutinise our processes. We have taken the outcome of the complaint investigation and the SPSO report extremely seriously and will use this to enable staff to learn from what happened. The SPSO has agreed we have complied with their recommendations.​”

Scottish Parliament election, 6 May 2021