Relevant Links

Please see these fascinating links to press reports in connection with loss of spectacles, hearing aids and dentures in hospitals.

Lost dentures cost patients dignity and NHS £1m

Thousands of sets of false teeth are lost by NHS hospitals every year, costing taxpayers more than £1 million in compensation and having a devastating impact on frail elderly patients.

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£1m NHS bill for lost dentures

The dentists’ union estimates that around 9,500 dentures are lost in NHS hospitals in England every year, costing the NHS in the region of £1 million. It is a lot of money – and it is preventable.

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NHS pays £70k compensation for lost possessions.

MIRACLES are performed on a daily basis in the Capital’s hospitals, whether it’s organ transplants, groundbreaking surgery or using wonder drugs to save lives. But it appears NHS staff also have a less impressive trick up their sleeves – making things disappear.

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Doctor... they've lost my dentures

ELDERLY NHS patients are left unable to see, hear and eat properly because hospitals are losing thousands of pounds worth of hearing aids, dentures and glasses each year.

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My husband lost a pair of glasses when he was in hospital for assessment. He didn't have a spare pair so I had two more pairs made.
I mentioned the loss to the nurse who was doing the continuing healthcare assessment and he said that I could claim for them, something I hadn't thought possible.

I asked the ward manager about this and he told me that it was unlikely I would succeed but he would give me the form and I could try.

Anyway, I was surprised and delighted the other day when I received a cheque for one of the pairs and I wanted to let you all know that it is possible to be reimbursed for such things.

It will go towards my husband’s CH fees.

I also claimed for the cost of dad's hearing aids lost in the CH he was in for respite... They tried to brush me off, but I persisted and told them in a letter that they were responsible for Dad's care, like I am when he is at home, and I would claim off insurance if anything went wrong.

Hi, I have just joined this forum, but I have been reading some of the threads left by others and found many of the questions and answers familiar territory. I cared for my father for the past few years and now his Alzheimer’s has progressed where he was considered unsafe to live independently and he has been living in a dementia home for the past year. I visit weekly. Dad's hearing is very poor, and he is dependent on bilateral hearing aids. He kept mislaying one or the other and one or both would go missing from week to week. We managed to get him new ones from the hospital audiology department before Christmas, but since then the same thing has happened. We even wrote his name on each in indelible ink, but it has worn off. The care staff say that residents with dementia often mislay personal belongings including false teeth and hearing aids, quite often taking them out in a communal area and leaving them there or picking up someone else’s. I don't know if there's a solution to this problem. Communication is difficult at the best of times but is impossible without dad wearing his hearing aids. Has anyone else experienced this

Yes, my dad has lost both his hearing aids, his teeth and three pairs of glasses it is very annoying, I also must keep going to the hospital to get new ones.

Whilst my mum was in hospital, her glasses went missing. Dad has tried to claim on the insurance but has been told they wouldn’t be covered as they were lost outside the home & therefore on his policy, he can’t claim.

One day a ward sister asked a student nurse to clean all the patients’ dentures. The student got a bowl, collected the dentures and cleaned them. The rest of the shift was spent trying to find which dentures belonged to which patients. I love these old nursing tales but this one illustrates the problem associated with keeping patients and their dentures together. How many patients wrap their dentures in tissues which are then thrown away?

I really hope we can find the answer to this perennial problem, it makes such a difference to the quality of the hospital experience and has been found to help with prevention of delirium in older people if patients have access to their dentures, glasses and hearing aids. I suspect the answer lies with staff involvement rather than equipment as there have always been dentures pots available. If we just 'THINK DENTURES' every time we change a bed, throw away rubbish, and pack up a patient’s belongings I bet we could reduce the number of lost dentures. A set of dentures costs around £240! Not to mention the problems associated with not being able to eat.

I find it very serious when hospitals lose personal property of patients and especially something as essential as dentures or glasses which are inconvenient to do without and costly to replace. hopefully the hospital addresses the problem as rapidly as possible and meet the costs. Sometimes too patients are admitted as an emergency or from the street and may have costly jewellery or other valuables on them which should be dealt with appropriately to prevent their loss.

Agreed.
Especially when you find someone else is wearing someone else’s dentures, yes it happens. On our severe dementia unit, we found dentures everywhere, tucked into undergarments etc., not necessarily their own dentures, people who had somehow managed to put the bottom dentures in their mouth as their top denture.

Dentures are important for helping people to chew properly, know it sounds obvious, but without dentures our patients could become more of a choking risk, have to go on soft or pureed diet and miss out on the quality and taste of their food, not enjoy their food so much and start to lose weight, so the fact that we can identify who owns which dentures is a positive step forward and that is more important than any added bacteria that might be attracted to the tiny engraving on the denture, in my opinion.

Can a hospital be responsible for a lost hearing aid?

My mother recently had surgery was still under the effects of anaesthesia and pain medication. She was instructed to remove her hearing aid for the temp to be taken and set in on the table which contained a dinner tray which she put the aid on. She went to look for it and put it back in and it was gone. Since had been instructed to remove it and was under the effects of the above does she have any recourse for reimbursement? She had been placed on a bed alarm, so they must have been concerned about her mental status.

As a hospital dentist it’s always a heart sink moment when you get the referral from the ward that reads, “Mrs X has lost her dentures, please could you replace them”. If only it was that easy…

Mrs X has not only lost her dentures, but also the ability to eat her meals, communicate clearly, smile at her family and potentially, her dignity.

It is normally a similar story. Mrs X had fallen asleep and her dentures weren’t there when she woke up, she had wrapped them in some tissue to keep them clean, safe or left them on her meal tray. One way or another they were accidentally mistaken for rubbish and disposed of. She had been in hospital for days, yet no one had asked if she had dentures and therefore she wasn’t provided with a denture pot to keep them clean. Patients who have lost dentures are often sad and their families are often very angry. There is no quick fix. Losing dentures is not like losing hearing aids or glasses; they cannot be replaced in a few days with a prescription. Making dentures is a technical process that involves four or five appointments with a dentist to take moulds and measurements, and between each appointment the work is sent to a technician who makes the individual dentures. This process takes, on average, 6 weeks. Dentures are like a good pair of shoes – they take time to get used to and often older people find it difficult, or are unable, to adapt to a new set.

In a very few hospitals there is a dental department or pathways via which re-making of dentures can be organised, but in many hospitals, they do not exist. The result is patients waiting until they are discharged, which could take several months.

For a dentist, making dentures for hospitalised patients can be challenging. Patients are often not well enough to cooperate, and you know deep down, that despite your best efforts you will inevitably be making a substandard set of teeth.

Last week my saddest denture loss case was a lady who was so upset that her dentures had been lost she could not bear to see her family and asked them not to visit her until they were remade.

This week I would say my saddest case is a lady who woke up in hospital one day to find that her dentures had gone. A letter came to the dental department asking for the dentures to be remade but also mentioned that the patient was on a palliative care unit. Speaking with the ward sister, I explained that we would remake them as soon as possible but it would still take at least 4 weeks. The sister explained it was likely that the patient would have died by then. After speaking to the patient, it was clear that she was preparing for her last days with her family. She wanted a dignified death, the opportunity to say good-bye to all her loved ones and it upset her deeply that she had no teeth. She pleaded, as did her husband, for us to somehow make her some dentures within a week.

So how do you solve this problem of denture loss? A problem that costs the NHS millions each year? A problem that is hardly ever incident reported?

A good start is ensuring that staff check with patients on admission whether they have dentures and advising that they are kept in a labelled denture pot when not in the mouth. Maybe a discreet sunflower sign behind a patient’s bed as a reminder to check trays and the bed-space for dentures? Patients and their family should be advised that when they are not wearing their dentures, they should be kept in a denture pot. Ward staff all ought to be reminded about the importance of checking trays and bed linen for dentures.

Hopefully these measures will make a difference and with time, perseverance and a one-team approach, we will see less of the sad cases above.

Mum is in temp care as main carer have been in hospital for surgery and still recovering.
Her glasses have been missing over 2 weeks now and will have to be replaced.
They will cost £200 and as mum isn’t mobile, somebody else has misplaced them.
I expect home to pay. Has anybody any advice or experience of something similar?
They had a tag with her name on and deputy manager put a chain on them for me last time i saw mum wear them.
They must have insurance surely.

Unfortunately, the loss of items such as glasses is a very common occurrence when a person enters a care home. There is a myriad of reasons, some of which have been discussed in other posts. On a hunt for my husband’s glasses one day, a staff member told me that the resident takes an aversion to their glasses for some reason and disown them, sometimes wrapping them and putting them in the rubbish bin. Naturally the cleaning staff wouldn't investigate everything in every rubbish bin when emptying them, resulting in many items being lost altogether. It is advised that no small items of value be left with the resident

Ma's been in her home since April 2016, so far, we've lost one set of specs and both dentures. I haven't even bothered having a go at the home, but I do whinge about them looking for these things.

In a home with people with no memory it's simple too easy for things to go missing.

So far, we've lost Dad's hearing aids and Mum and Dad's glasses. One pair were found but need replacing. I'm not surprised at all given how people with dementia wander and pick things up etc....not sure more could be done by the care home. I think we are close to giving up on the Hearing aids as Dad needs reminding to wear them - We will not replace the private ones and will now use his NHS ones. With the glasses, the care home are arranging an optician visit and we will more easily be able to replace them in the future. A constant challenge I think!

My mum lost her top and bottom teeth in her care home, I spoke to a dentist, but mum wouldn't co-operate. I have had impressions taken and you must keep very still.

I posted about it on TP years ago, someone said she would learn to 'gum' her food, but she didn't, and was choking. Mum was put onto a pureed diet.

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