Man with fingers chopped off told: go on home now

Published: 9 Aug 2012 13:001 comment

A TAMLAGHT man who lost two fingers in a lawnmower accident last Monday says senior staff at the South West Acute Hospital put him "through hell" when he was sent home just two-and-a-half hours after attending casualty.

Tamlaght man Johnny Nelson who lost fingers while working with a lawnmower.<

School bus driver, Johnny Nelson was told he would have to make his own way to the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald the following morning for treatment after staff at the new £276 million hospital took an X-ray of his hand and bandaged it.

Angered by his experience, Mr Nelson says he will be out of action for four to five months now and will have to travel to Belfast for his aftercare treatment for the next three to four months.

"In my opinion I wouldn't like to call this the South West Acute Hospital at all," he told The Impartial Reporter, "They should take the 'Acute' out of it if this is the way they are treating patients in the casualty department. They have put me through hell. I want people to know what's actually happening in there. We have this lovely new hospital but we are no better off."

Mr Nelson had been cutting a pensioner's lawn on the Sligo Road, Enniskillen at lunch time last Monday when the accident occurred.

"I was taking the grass box off the lawnmower and the first two fingers on my right hand were completely chopped off. Two others were badly damaged."

He went to a neighbour's house to raise the alarm.

"I was close to passing out," he said, "The neighbour came out with a cloth to wrap around the hand."

An ambulance arrived and Mr Nelson was taken to the South West Acute Hospital.

"I was taken into casualty in a wheelchair," he explained, "A nurse came in and looked at me and went back out again. I told her I needed pain relief. About five to 10 minutes later the doctor came in and prescribed morphine and went out again. I was sitting waiting and waiting until I was wheeled down for an x-ray. I was left there again for about 20 minutes by myself before I got the x-ray.

"When I was brought back up to casualty the doctor came in and told me I had to be up in the Ulster Hospital for 10.45am the next morning and I had to make my own way there. He told me the nurse would bandage me up and I would get anti-biotics. "I was still shaking with the shock. My wife Sharon had to help me into the car. The pain was unbearable."

Mr Nelson had little sleep overnight as he struggled to keep his hand elevated. "I had to take a belt of my own and wrap it around the bed post and my arm, and that is how I slept that night. I could see the blood was oozing out of the bandage. The next morning when I woke up the bandage was completely covered in blood."

Mr Nelson was pleased with the treatment he received at the Ulster Hospital the following day.

"When I arrived I was seen to straight away," he said, "I had an operation which lasted just over two hours and I was kept in overnight and sent home the next afternoon.

"The nurse there thought I had been transferred straight from Enniskillen. I told her no, it had happened the day before and I had been sent home. She couldn't get my bandages off because they were just rock solid with dry blood.

"For my after care I now have to go up there at least every week to two weeks for the next three to four months."

Mr Nelson said he has not made an official complaint with the South West Acute Hospital, believing it to be a "waste of time".

He spoke with a local GP about his experience.

"He couldn't believe it," said Mr Nelson, "I do think it's the lack of staff in there that is the problem. The nurse who looked after me in there was very good, I have to say, but when I kept asking questions, the doctor told me he was treating two other patients as well as me. So in other words, stop talking.

"I don't know if it would have been different if I had said I didn't feel fit to go home, but I was in that much shock that I just did as I was told.

"I put a picture of my hand up on Facebook and so many people have got in touch with me saying that they can't believe I was sent home so soon after."

A spokesperson for Western Trust commented: "The Western Trust Emergency Departments work closely with the Regional Plastic Surgery Service to which all patients with significant hand injuries are referred. In order to minimize the possibility of further  tissue disruption prior to plastic surgical assessment and treatment, local treatment is based upon protection of the injured area only, and is dictated in operational procedures agreed with the Regional Specialist service.

"To protect confidentiality the Trust does not comment on the care and treatment of individual patients. If a patient or their relative is unhappy in relation to any aspect of their care and treatment they are encouraged to raise such issues directly with staff in the first instance or through the Trust's comments and complaints system - the Patients' Advocate Office. The Patients' Advocate Office can be contacted on 028 71611226."

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