The family of a grandfather with a potentially fatal condition who waited 17 hours to be transferred from A&E to a ward have criticised the hospital for the “appalling” experience.
Michael Johnson was sent to Croydon University Hospital by ambulance after a visit to his GP on January 3.
When the ambulance arrived at the London Road hospital at around 6pm, the 70-year-old was seen by a nurse who took his blood pressure, a pulse reading and did an ECG to check his heart rhythm.
At this point it was not known what was wrong with him, but he was later diagnosed with life-threatening sepsis – a body response which can trigger organ failure.
His wife Ann Johnson, 66, who was with him, said it was clear nurses were stretched and she had to remind them her husband needed medication and fluids.
She claims that she asked passing nurses to give her husband medicine and fluids, but it was three hours until this happened.
“I was very worried,” she said.
“All I wanted them to do was give him the medication or fluids because the doctor said it was serious to the ambulance people – they have got to get the priority right.”
Mr Johnson was seen within 15 minutes of his arrival, but it was more than 12 hours before he was transferred to a ward on the afternoon of January 4.
Before his transfer he was in a treatment room, where in the early hours of the morning her husband’s temperature shot up.
She said: “At 4am he woke up with high temperature and red in the face. I asked for help and the nurse said, ‘I will be there in a minute,’ and no nurse arrived.”
After asking again he was seen by a nurse and given some more medication, but was not seen by a doctor until 10am.
He was transferred to a ward around 17 hours after he arrived at the hospital and ended up staying in hospital for two weeks – he was discharged on January 18.
The night before his discharge he was moved to another ward which Mrs Johnson said was cold and she was worried his condition would deteriorate again.
She said: “He was moved just down in a gown – no blanket – and was told to sit in a wheelchair and was finally given a bed.
“The room was so cold he had to ask for a blanket and sheet to keep warm.”
He is now recovering at home in Croydon and the couple have since complained to Croydon Health Services Trust about the experience.
Mrs Johnson added: “The whole experience from start to finish was appalling.
“My concern would be for the people who are on their own – if I was not around to ask questions, chase nurses and doctors, I believe he would have been sent home without treatment for the sepsis and would have continued to get worse.
“Sepsis should be taken with the same care as a heart attack as it a life-threatening.
A spokeswoman for the trust said: “We apologise for the delay in transferring Mr Johnson to a ward from our emergency department.
“Mr Johnson was clinically assessed within 15 minutes of his arrival and was cared for in an individual treatment room within the department until we were able to move him to a ward, where his treatment continued.
“Our staff work very hard to give everyone the highest standard of care. On Friday, January 3 we treated 325 patients in our emergency department, an increase of more than 10 per cent compared to the same time last year, many of whom needed to be admitted to a ward for further treatment.”
Pictured is Croydon hospital.