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Bad smear experience - should I complain?

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KGee
Bad smear experience - should I complain?

Hello,

I am wondering if anyone could offer me some advice with regard to my smear test experience today. 

I am 31 and have had approximately 8 smear tests so the experience isn’t new to me.  My last 3 smears have been very painful which I believe to be related to possible Vaginismus (that’s another long story). My last smear resulted in going for a colposcopy and then a biopsy so was understandably extra anxious today.

The nurse brought me into the room, didn’t even offer me to sit down and pretty much suggested we get straight to it. She was aware this was the first test since my biopsy and I told her that I find smears very painful and she suggested she’ll use a small speculum which I told her I always request. She got me up on the bed straight away. Just as I prepared myself, she advised that the gel would be cold before what I can only describe as ramming the speculum into me as quickly as she could, I squirmed and then without warning she expanded the speculum very quickly causing me literally burst into tears (I’ve never burst into tears like that in my life). I put my hands down and I can’t rememer if I told her to stop but I definitely told her it was agony and I was clearly upset. Rather than stop or ask me if i wanted her to proceed, she instead told me that she could see my cervix and proceeded to do the scrape. And then just like that she was done, whilst I lay there tears streaming down my face. She gave me time to get changed and through the curtain started talking about how long I’d need to wait for results. I was replying but my voice kept breaking because I was still not quite finished my cry. She didn’t even offer me a seat to compose myself (or sympathy OR acknowledge my quite obvious distress). Once I got myself sorted, I was outta there and walked home in tears.

Has anyone else had a similar experience? I have been upset all night thinking about it and although I dreaded smear tests before but still went, I’m now so so worried about ever having to go through that again. Does anyone have any thoughts on if I should make a complaint? I’m not one to make a fuss but I feel like this nurse should be spoken with and I am so frustrated with myself for not being able to tell her at the time that what she done wasn’t acceptable. She probably thought the quicker we do it then quicker it’s over with. 

 

 

Lotty9000

Hi KGee

That sounds awful! I think there are a few issues here that need highlightingto the nurse. 

1. Her bedside manner of just get on with it may suit some but not all and as a health professional this should be adjusted to each individual.

2. Whenever anyone is clearly distressed you should check they still consent for you to continue.

3. I actually think that there should be a bit of chat before actually cracking on with a smear. Otherwise how have you actually gained informed consent.

I suppose the point I’m trying to make is you should most definitely complain. If she feels this is an appropriate way to behave then she’s very very wrong. Also if you make your concerns known it may save someone else this experience.

 I feel so sorry that you have had this experience and I can only imagine how this has made you feel about attending in the future.

xxxxxx

11th March 2019- 1st ever abnormal smear. (Never missed a smear)

1st May 2019 - Colposcopy with LLETZ

9th May 2019 - diagnosis ?1B Villoglandular adenocarcinoma 

22nd and 23rd May 2019 - MRI/CT

29th May - MDT meeting. MRI/CT clear. Amount of tumour 1A stage.

13th June 2nd LLETZ with top hat procedure 

3rd July Confirmed staging 1A1, clear margins on 2nd LLETZ. Scheduled for laparoscopic hysterectomy, keeping ovaries.

29/8/19 Total Laproscopic hysterectomy with ovarian conservation.

Awaiting final pathology results 

C L D

Hi Kgee,

 

this is sounds like you’ve had an awful time of it! 

I’m the same age as you and in a similar boat (although yours sounds so much worse than my experience) I also find smears really painful. I have one on Thursday and just the thought of it is making me feel sick. 

 

If i was you I would consider putting a complaint in. Imagine if this was your first experience of a smear, would you be going back in 3 years for another? Probably not. I wouldn’t want this nurse treating anyone else like this. 

 

You can contaxt PALS and they will help you with any complaints. https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/nhs-services-and-treatments/what-is-pals-patient-advice-and-liaison-service/

 

dont let this experience put you off. When I go for smears now I always ask for a specific doctor who I know has a good technique which causes less pain. Trouble is it can be trial and error with them. But this could be something to consider for the future! 

 

Hope you can have a nice weekend and relax that it’s over for another 3 years :) 

 

C l poore

KGee

Morning Lotty9000 and C L D,

Thank you both so much for taking time reply to me, I really appreciate it. 

You raise good points and have actually made me feel so much better this morning as I woke up worried that I was over-reacting.

I’ll check out that link you’ve posted and see what the process is. The nurse at the surgery years ago was the nicest and most gentle nurse so I was devastated when she moved on to pastures new. I’ve since had smear tests by another 4 nurses and doctors at other places before returning to my surgery yesterday to be faced with this nurse I’ve never seen before. The nurse and 2 doctors who done my last 3 smears took their time with me, done it at my pace and I could see that they were genuinely concerned for me during it. I keep trying to remind myself of this!  

I’m now just hoping that my results are okay and that instead of having to go every year, it’ll be back to 3 years between smears, and hopefully by then with time passing, I’ll be less anxious at the thought than I am right now. 

Thank you both so much again x

 

KGee

Just wanted to leave a wee update...

I had got in touch with PALS re. my experience and wanting to raise a formal complaint. They forwarded my email on to the surgery in the first instance. One of the GP Partners has phoned me to arrange a meeting so I’m due to go in next week to discuss with him ways in which they could have handled my smear experience differently. Not really sure what to expect from this meeting....I guess all I can really do is recount what I went through and try my best to give some kind of advice to prevent anyone else going through what I went through. Hopefully I can turn this horrible experience into a positive one for any future women who have to be seen by the same nurse I was unfortunate to be seen by!

Lotty9000

Well done, hope the meeting goes well xxx

11th March 2019- 1st ever abnormal smear. (Never missed a smear)

1st May 2019 - Colposcopy with LLETZ

9th May 2019 - diagnosis ?1B Villoglandular adenocarcinoma 

22nd and 23rd May 2019 - MRI/CT

29th May - MDT meeting. MRI/CT clear. Amount of tumour 1A stage.

13th June 2nd LLETZ with top hat procedure 

3rd July Confirmed staging 1A1, clear margins on 2nd LLETZ. Scheduled for laparoscopic hysterectomy, keeping ovaries.

29/8/19 Total Laproscopic hysterectomy with ovarian conservation.

Awaiting final pathology results 

KGee

Thanks Lotty9000 and thank you again for your advice, I really appreciated it. 

Take care xxx