A pain-wracked woman had a vital gall bladder operation cancelled after she broke the strict nil by mouth rule – by CHEWING GUM
Stunned Laura Cleave, 37, was being prepped for a procedure to remove gall stones last Thursday after suffering with the painful condition for several years.
But the op at the Royal Cornwall Hospital was cancelled at the last minute after medical staff noticed mum-of-three Laura had gum in her mouth.
She was told the op could not go ahead that day – and is now back on a waiting list to be re-scheduled at a later date.
Bar worker Laura, of St Mabyn, Cornwall, claims she was never told that gum was banned – and believed the nil by mouth rule applied only to things swallowed.
Laura said: “I am so annoyed about it. I did not know and did not even think about it. It is such a simple thing and I do feel like an idiot.
“But if I did not want the operation done I would never have gone in. It was a waste of everyone’s time.
“I know there will be some criticism of me but it was an innocent mistake. I certainly didn’t want to waste the NHS’s time and money. That is the last thing I wanted.
“But I just want people to be aware – as I certainly wasn’t.”
Laura has been suffering with agonising gall stones for nearly three years, but finally sought help from the specialist in December last year.
She added: “I know I put it off for a while, but it got to the stage I had to do something as it was really affecting me.
“Now, I am in a position when I don’t know when the operation will be done.”
Laura, who has three daughters Ruby, eight, Florence, four and Shanon, three, said her letter had just told her the operation was scheduled for the afternoon – and made no mention of gum.
It told her to have a light breakfast at 8am and then she should take her normal medication and water until 10am – but nothing afterwards.
She added: “I keep reading and looking back at the letter and it makes no mention of chewing gum.
“I presumed they were talking about things that we swallow. Apparently some leaflets refer specifically to gum and some don’t. But mine certainly did not.
“I just had the pre-op letter that stated no food or drink between certain times.
“They said nothing about chewing gum. When I went in the nurse came around to do checks on me and asked to look in my mouth. She did not say anything.
“The anesthetist then came and I was just throwing the chewing gum away. He then got really funny and said they would have to put the operation back.
“I thought it would be for a few hours, but they then came back and told me they couldn’t do it today.
“I was angry and upset. I am now on a waiting list for the operation and there is no guarantee when it will be.
“I am still living in quite a lot of pain. It comes and goes – but there are times when I have had to call an ambulance and been violently sick.”
A spokesman for the Royal Cornwall Hospital said: “We are sorry it was necessary to postpone Ms Cleave’s operation.
“This decision was made due to the risks associated with general anaesthetic when a patient hasn’t being entirely nil by mouth for the specified period beforehand.
“In these circumstances we do try to reschedule later in the day if theatre lists and time permit.
“Our leaflets and letters to patients, as well as the advice given at pre-operative assessment, do include instructions with specific reference to avoiding sweets and gum.
“However, we continually review our departmental policies and we will ensure that our preoperative documentation for patients is as clear as possible.”
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