I thought I'd share my recent experience of being very impressed and appreciative of the care given by hospital staff during my stay for a back operation. I was very worried about the possiblilty of being accidently exposed to peanuts whilst I was in an environment that was not in my control, seeing that I can have a severe reaction to airborne particles, let alone ingesting them.
On the 19th Dec I went into the National Capital Private Hospital here in Canberra for a microdiscectomy. I spoke with the admittance staff the day before the op, and they noted my peanut and penicillin allergies.
I was admitted into a shared room (only two beds), but (after DH impressed on the admission nurse my airborne sensitivity) I had staff come to see me about my peanut allergy before I went into theatre. They put a sign on the ward door warning that there was a patient with severe nut allergy, and for staff and visitors not to enter the room if they had been in contact with any nut products.
They also then decided to move me to a private room, on my return from theatre, so that the risk of being exposed to nuts by the other patient's visitors could be eliminated for my overnight stay.
Staff had begun an early celebration of Christmas, as many were due to start their holidays the following day. They checked that no Christmas gifts were in the office areas which may have contained nuts, and removed any unsafe snack items. Each nurse or other hospital staff members who entered my room asked me lots of questions and informed me of things they had been doing to ensure that I would be safe.
They also brought me the menus for the next few meals so that I could choose nut-free items. I wrote "No nuts or nut products please" across the top, and when making my selections, wrote notes alongside, such as next to the yoghurt I wrote "Please check ingredients list to make sure it does not state 'may contain traces of nuts" and "no pesto please" for my lasagne. The kitchen staff who collected the menu used a highlighter to bring my notes to special attention.
Anyway, I was prepped for the op and wheeled into the theatre area. They kept my Medic-Alert bracelet taped onto my wrist, and I had a special red tag which listed my allergies and action to be taken if needed. The nursing staff there also made some announcements re the contamination issue, asking people to think about what they had eaten for breakfast etc. One nurse had had a 'may contain' museli bar for morning tea, and kept her distance :-)
My operation was a success and I was taken back to my private room, now sporting its own special sign, asking people not to enter if they had had any contact with nuts or nut products.
My family came to visit and we ate dinner together in my room. They had ordered meals from the kitchen, and we were enjoying the great selection of nut-free soups, bread rolls, salads, lasagne, vegetables etc. It was amusing for my family to watch me, still recovering from the anesthetic, falling asleep in between mouthfulls :-)
I had ordered fruit salad for dessert and my family had visitor's meals with a "dessert of the day" - it turned out to be cake with almonds sprinkled on top. They were covered with plastic wrap and my MIL asked a visiting nurse to remove them from the room - the nurse was horrified and very apologetic, and my family felt bad. The floor's head nurse tore strips off the catering staff who delvered the meal (in earshot of DH & MIL) and later told DH she would file an incident report. I guess you've just got to double check everything :-)
That night I was awfully sick from the anesthetic, morphine and whatever else - operations are not nice. The nursing staff were very attentive, checking on me every half hour, and chatting to me at three in the morning when I couldn't sleep :-) The next morning I felt much better, and I was discharged at 2pm, after enjoying a nice breakfast and lunch (all nut-free!).
So, even though this is a rather long story, I wanted to share with you the (mostly) positive experience I had, and hope that if you or your children ever have to go to hospital that you also have a safe time.
I've since been recovering well, and am up and walking around (but not yet doing cartwheels)!
Helen, Canberra, Australia