Treatment of a burns victim

A man complained to the Commission that his teenage daughter had received inadequate care in hospital when she was admitted for the treatment of severe burns.

The man said that his daughter had waited several hours to be transferred to a ward and that, during this time, a nurse did not attend to the care of his daughter’s injuries, ignored his daughter’s requests for further pain relief, and was rude.

The daughter had been transferred to an antenatal ward. The father complained that the ward was poorly equipped and that the staff there lacked expertise in the management of burns. Although the daughter was eventually transferred to a specialist burns unit in another hospital, the hospital staff were confused about the need for his daughter’s transfer and the transfer arrangements.

The Commission sought a response to the complaint from the hospital.

The hospital’s investigation found that, while the clinical care provided by the hospital met the guidelines for dealing with burns injuries, there were deficiencies in aspects of the daughter’s accommodation and in staff communication. The hospital wrote a letter of apology to the man and his family, advising that it had reviewed its procedures and made appropriate changes to improve its standard of care.

The matter was referred to the Resolution Service. The Resolution Officer contacted the complainant, who requested more details of the changes to the hospital’s procedures on the basis that he had made his complaint in order to help prevent similar incidents in the future.

The Resolution Officer negotiated with the hospital to write to the complainant again. The hospital’s further letter set out in detail the nature of the improvements that had been implemented by the hospital as a result of the man’s complaint:

  • The relevant procedures had been reviewed.
  • A nurse had been the subject of performance management.
  • Certain staff attended educational sessions with the aim of improving the level of service that they provided to patients suffering burn injuries.
  • The burn dressings protocol was to be attached to the medical records of burns patients when they changed wards.
  • Staff had been directed to consider the special needs of burns patients and, if a suitable bed was not available, they were to expedite the patient’s transfer to a specialist unit as a matter of priority.

The man was satisfied with the hospital’s apology and with its detailed explanation of the systemic changes that it had implemented in response to the concerns that he had raised in his complaint.

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