Patient’s ‘stop-start surgery’ anguish

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A hospital trust has apologised to a patient who was twice admitted to hospital for bowel surgery but was sent home on both occasion without going under the knife.

It was not until the third time that Steven Tiffen was admitted to Watford General Hospital that he had an operation to remove part of his bowel.

But before surgeons took action, Steven, 32, went through weeks of abdomen pain and unexplained bleeding, which saw him repeatedly sent to hospital by his GP.

He said: “The way I was being treated was appalling. I didn’t know if I was coming or going.

Now West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Hemel Hempstead, Watford and St Albans hospitals, has apologised for ‘any distress and anxiety’ that Steven experienced.

A trust spokesman said: “We have thoroughly investigated the issues Mr Tiffen has raised, including a full clinical review of the care he received. We are sorry for any delays he experienced; however, we believe that all clinical decisions were made appropriately.

“A detailed formal response has been sent to Mr Tiffen which we hope fully addresses his concerns.  This response details some of the actions we have put in place to make improvements to our service.”

When Steven, of Adeyfield, Hemel Hempstead, was first admitted to hospital after being told by surgeons that he would need an operation, he was told the following morning that surgery would not be necessary and that the problem should settle down by itself.

He spent a week in hospital before being discharged, despite still bleeding and, when Mr Tiffen tried to suggest that he should not be sent home, he was escorted by security to the discharge lounge.

After a couple of weeks at home, Steven, who is currently signed off sick and still suffering from health problems, returned to his GP with the same problem.

He was sent for emergency blood tests and told to return if it did not improve.

By the start of November he went back to his doctor, who prescribed some medication.

On January 2, Steven’s condition worsened so he returned to his GP, who contacted Watford hospital. He was told to attend hospital where experts said he needed surgery. The following day he was told by a consultant that he did not need surgery and was discharged on January 4.

Two days later Steven’s case got worse and he was admitted to hospital again. Several days later he had surgery, when part of his bowel was removed.