British Lung Foundation
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blood gas

Would just like to put a warning out I was ill over the new year and ended in AE three times I have never had my blood gasses done in my wrist but had heard it hurt well sadly the first two attempt were done by junior docs very nice may I say but they made a right bodge and neither one was any good I was terrified after that but luckily I went on the third time and a more experienced doctor done the test he was quick and I never felt a thing ? The docs were all very nice but surely we should not be used too practise on its a very difficult and uncomfortable procedure even when done by someone fully trained I definatly will refuse if approached by a junior again to do this x

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Yeah it nips a bit hope your feeling a little better again x

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The last time I had an arterial test there was a student and a doctor. As I don't mind the student tried but couldn't find an artery so I got her to have another go. That didn't work either and it took the doctor, six months qualified, two goes to get a sample. I am more than happy to be practiced on, that is the only way to learn and I may as well be useful for something.

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They can practise on my veins at any time but its a no no to blood gases that is so different.

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Yes going into the Artery is not very pleasant

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I would say let them practise on each other and then they might have an appreciation of the pain tests like this cause to the patient who is either terrified or suffering already or perhaps both! If I have to hear once more "you'll only feel a little prick" I will scream! Once when my daughter had to have this test for an entirely different disease after she had been to hell and back already, I asked the doctor, again a jumior, had he had that done to him. He said no and I said well when you have then you can feel free to make that comment and had he been taught to make these assumptions at training college? Again they had to get a Registrar in to do this test after her suffering at the junior's hands. My daughter is an extremely brave girl who has had some of the most awful things done to her in the name of treatment and has been highly praised for her attitude by hospital staff, but this was the proverbial straw for her. No I wouldn't let anyone practise on me after witnessing what my daughter has been through over the years!

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Same for me, only one that was very bad to the point I can remember that my toes lifted off the bed and came up to my chest. Didn't know I could do that. He was young in A&E and poked and prodded and I felt the needle twisting and moving inside of my wrist. I have always since that night asked for a senior to do it always very polite, they always say yes. Like you when the right person does it its ok. You are not on your own from time to time people post this sort of post and there generally is a lot of replies. The senior reg did tell me that even he can get it wrong sometimes as the arteries are not always easy to find and I think they have to go in in a specific part. When I was in hospital in November they did the gases from the cannula they had put into one arm, I was really pleased at this and thought I had escaped having them done, nnoooooooo three days later on the ward I had to have them done when I asked why I was told I had only escaped because I was poorly and the one from the arm was just to give them a general idea.

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Having said that I remember once when giving blood. The (female) nurses were all great but the only time a doctor (male) did me he couldn't find a vein and when he did the needle wouldn't stay in. It really hurt and he only managed to get half a pint! x

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I think it's also a matter of skill and pure nerve. I had blood gasses done when I was in hospital a few times, during transplant evaluation. The senior doctor was rather nervous and he couldn't get it right. The poor man was almost sweating. Later the junior doctor came in and tried. She was full of confidence and we chatted whilst she worked. It was smooth and successful the first time.

Having spent a total of six weeks in two university hospitals I can see why junior doctors need all the practice they can get. I always try to give them the benefit of the doubt. It made me remember being a trainee teacher. Not quite the same scenario, but I remember the eagerness to get in there and try. xx 😊

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P.S. Hope you are feeling better.

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I have had this done a few times but the first time was awful, he tried six times without success, I watched the needle moving around trying to find the correct spot, it was flipping agony, in the end he gave up and I thought they would not do it again, but when I got up to the ward another doctor appeared and said that it would have to be done and he was going to go into my groin, as you can imagine I was not delighted, in fact I was terrified, so he produced the needle and told me to turn away, and before I knew what was happening he did it and I didn't feel a thing, I didn't even feel the needle going in. It was not the best day of my life I have to say 😊😊

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NOOO, poor you Christina - please stop anyone who can't get it right after trying 6 times!! I would allow twice, then refuse until they found a more experienced doctor.

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Hi O2Trees. Every time I have had it done since that first time have been fine, straight in no problem, but I don't want to repeat that first experience 😃😃

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Ouch I can still feel the pain when thinking about this procedure, three needles were broke when a doctor tried to do this, everytime I'm admitted I have this procedure and I absolutely hate it, I don't like needles at the best of times but when Dr's say they going to do this test I feel sick, but guess to make me better it's got to be done so I shouldn't moan really, but ouch ouch ouch 🤢😁😂

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I have had this done many times sometimes not feeling any pain It is not very comfortable I have had lots of Junior Drs who have been very successful and no pain

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Blood gas test have to be the worst I was lucky and passed out

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I was under the impression they can check the blood gases by taking blood from the ear lobe. Then you don't have to be put through all that pain and trauma.

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They can I had it done this way at the sleep clinic didn't feel a thing but apparently it is not such a true reading x

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Not as accurate via the ear lobe

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Even experienced doctors make mistakes!!! I had one decide who to do blood gasses whilst I was on Oxygen. I had to ask the nurse to say to him was it really a good idea?? I think they all think we are human pin cushions when we're admitted to hospital.

But the difference between doctors can be extreme even experienced doctors can be butchers when it comes to blood gasses. So I think we all dead them and in turn it makes them harder to bare.

Still chin up, because it won't be the last and I have had juniors that are better than experienced doctors, who are a bit blasé.

Luck of the draw.

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Thankyou everyone for your replies x

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Hi shadow4me , the last time I was in hospital I told the doctors that it should be part of the training that every trainee doctor should have to have an arterial blood gas and also have to drink those awful phosphate drinks. They then wouldn't be so dismissive when we ask for novocaine first - which incidentally is our right. Sheila xx

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Absolutely well said. No matter how old they are they should not be practising blood arterial gas procedure on ill patients until they are competent at doing it. There are very many good exponents capable of doing it without causing pain so you should not tolerate a novice, unfit for purpose.

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I had exactly the same experience here in Spain. The young male trainees were so scared of hurting me any more that they went and got a femail trainee and she did it without me feeling a thing. Not sure what that means .....

Mx ;-)

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I have had the same trouble too 3 different nurses tried on both wrists a total of 9 times (in nearly 40 minutes) when I went to the surgery then gave up. Was upset not only because they had failed and it was quite traumatic but had taken a lot out of me just to get there in the end for nothing. After that I refused to go and insisted it was tried at home. The respiratory nurse came a few months later and after 3 tries he gave up then tried again 3 months later and just got it on the 3rd try, painful uncomfortable and frustrating.

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Good for you Shadow4me - I had a bad experience with a trainee anaesthetist whose ineptitude had me coughing up blood for weeks and halted the next operation due before it could be performed due to blood and foam coming up the anaesthetic tube from the lungs - for the two further ops they had two senior anaesthetists in the theatre for me also lost a crown - and have had 4 to 5 years of illness ever since - so stay firm please and check on the staff expertise levels ......

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Hi shadow4me,

I completely sympathise with you, the same thing happened to me. A junior doctor tried three times in each wrist to get the arterial blood and it was excruciating every time. She finally got blood out on her sixth attempt but left my wrists black and blue. I had heard it is an extremely painful test but I allowed them to do it because I knew that my oxygen saturations were very low and that it wasn't safe for me to go home.

The doctor I'd seen earlier had decided that he knew exactly what was wrong with me, despite the fact that he hadn't carried out any tests. He had decided that I had POTS (which I didn't), even though my oxygen saturations were dropping to 79% lying on the hospital bed at rest, which POTS wouldn't cause.

That same night I had to be on oxygen because I couldn't breathe as soon as I fell asleep and was breathing through my nose.

The next day they couldn't find the blood test results and so discharged me, I then went home only to collapse again once there!

I ended up making a complaint because the doctor was so belittling and unkind to me and with this I also got copies of my hospital notes and tests. The arterial blood gasses test wasn't even mentioned in my notes and there wasn't any mention of my arterial blood gasses test in the laboratory notes or results either.

I have an advocate helping me with my complaint and she said that if they put a needle in me and took my blood, then they had to have logged this somewhere, even if it was only a laboratory note saying that the blood taken wasn't viable to test.

I know that the NHS is under great pressure but I will never allow another junior or inexperienced doctor to use me like a pin cushion again, especially given that my blood never even got tested!😮

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It can be extremely painfull i hate having it done but juniors must lern if not eventually we will have senior dr who cant do the test. My best pain free blood gasese test was done by a senior A&E nurse after the doctor messed it up twice. Its never good when the dr is shaking so much he cant get the needle in 😷💉😉

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This post so reminds me of the many times my precious daughter had arterial draws. Heather had Down syndrome and she was the bravest person I've ever known. And, yes...we learned that some respiratory therapists are just better than others. The two best were both male therapists and they were so gentle with her; they always got the draw on the first stick. Many others were not so gentle. I myself am not through with diagnostic stage, do have emphysema and was immediately put on 15hx2 liters supplemental oxygen, but Doc/pulmo does not believe emphysema bad enough to cause oxygen drops. 95 to 99 at rest without oxygen. Was dropping to mid 80's with movement, though oxygen and energy level have improved with the addition of a couple of supplements. Go the 23rd for another spirometry (results from 1st were too good they say), and echocardiogram. Thank you for sharing your experiences..I'm learning. J

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