The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1754-9493-8-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
SV performed flexible cystoscopy in patient #1, managed all patients, conceived the idea for this manuscript, collected the data, wrote the draft and revised the manuscript as per editorial comments. GS performed cystoscopy in patient #3; BS was Consultant in charge of three patients; PH carried out follow-up ultrasound examination of patient # 3; KP assessed cardiac status of patient #3. All authors have been involved in drafting the manuscript, revising it critically for important intellectual content, and have given final approval of the version to be published.
We report the anecdotal observation of substandard urological care of elderly paraplegic patients in the community suffering from long-term sequelae of spinal cord injuries. This article is designed to increase awareness of a problem that is likely underreported and may represent the ‘tip of the iceberg’ related to substandard care provided to the vulnerable population of elderly patients with chronic neurological impairment.
A registered Nurse changed the urethral catheter of an 80-year-old-male with paraplegia; patient developed profuse urethral bleeding and septicaemia. Ultrasound revealed balloon of Foley catheter located in membranous urethra. Flexible cystoscopy was performed and a catheter was inserted over a guide wire. Urethral bleeding recurred 12 days later. This patient was discharged after protracted stay in spinal unit. A nurse changed urethral catheter in an 82-year-old male with paraplegia. The catheter did not drain urine; patient developed pain in lower abdomen. The balloon of Foley catheter was visible behind the urethral meatus, which indicated that the balloon had been inflated in penile urethra. The catheter was removed and a 16 French Foley catheter was inserted per urethra. About 1300 ml of urine was drained. A 91-year-old lady with paraplegia underwent routine ultrasound examination of urinary tract by a Consultant Radiologist, who reported a 4 cm × 3 cm soft tissue mass in the urinary bladder. Cystoscopy was performed without anaesthesia in lithotomy position. Cystoscopy revealed normal bladder mucosa; no stones; no tumour. Following cystoscopy, the right knee became swollen and there was deformity of lower third of right thigh. X-ray revealed fracture of lower third of right femur. Femoral fracture was treated by immobilisation in full plaster cast. Follow-up ultrasound examination of urinary tract, performed by a senior Radiologist, revealed normal outline of urinary bladder with no tumour or calculus.
The adverse outcomes can be averted if elderly spinal cord injury patients are treated by senior, experienced health professionals, who are familiar with changes in body systems due to old age, compounded further by spinal cord injury.
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- Substandard urological care of elderly patients with spinal cord injury: an unrecognized epidemic?
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