to to tell you to call 999, rather than 111, if you think you can get away with it?

(77 Posts)
AlbertaCampion Thu 11-Apr-13 16:03:09

My diabetic DF was admitted to hospital on Tuesday, after being floored by that horrible DV bug that has been going around. My family decided to call an ambulance for him after he became too weak to get out of bed, unable to control his bowel movements and less than lucid.

He was conscious, and not in any great pain, so at 9pm we called 111. We spent close to an hour on the phone to the dispatcher there, running through his symptoms etc., and were told to wait with him. At midnight, phone calls were flying back and forth - but still no ambulance. His condition was getting worse. We called 111 again and were told to call 999 and get him into hospital pronto.

So we called 999 - only to be told that because the initial call had been made to 111, the 999 chaps would have to speak to the 111 chaps and go through the notes and get back to us.

At 2 am there was still no ambulance, and his condition was continuing to get worse, so we got him out to the car (with difficulty), made him as comfortable as we could in the car and my DB drove him to the hospital.

He is still in the hospital, hooked up to fluids etc. while they continue to run tests. His blood sugar is all over the place, so they have whacked up his insulin too.

I know I may get flamed for suggesting that you should call 999 if it isn't a class A urgent priority medical emergency - but the truth is, 111 were bloody useless and I will now think very long and hard before calling them again. AIBU?

Sidge Thu 11-Apr-13 16:07:30

YABU and I hope you're joking.

There is no justification for calling 999 unless it is a medical emergency.

I'm sorry your father is so poorly and agree that 111 is a shambles in many areas but you can't advise people to call 999 for any old problem. Just because you had a bad experience with 111 (and probably should have taken him to A&E yourselves at the outset) doesn't mean it doesn't work in other areas.

Hope he's better soon.

Sorry that you had a bad experience but this thread is very poorly thought out. You should ask for it to be deleted, advising people to call 999 in anything less than an emergency is just stupid.

Branleuse Thu 11-Apr-13 16:12:42

if you had the car and could take him, why would you call an ambulance?

LadyVoldemort Thu 11-Apr-13 16:16:52

Yabu. You should only call 999 in a real emergency.

I do sympathise with you though, it must have been a real worry with it taking so long. Hope your dad gets better soon

ShowMeTheYoni Thu 11-Apr-13 16:18:42

YABU.....I all why you are being though. But you had access to a car, you could have gone yourself...and did.

YoniFoolsAndHorses Thu 11-Apr-13 16:20:00

Why didn't you get him in the car earlier when he was in less pain, you ninny You didn't even need an ambulance later.
Why didn't you call your out of hours GP though for advice?

Mumsyblouse Thu 11-Apr-13 16:20:06

What is a 'real emergency' and how are we supposed to differentiate it from someone going downhill fast, like the OP's father? I know what you are saying, OP, you are saying that if you call 111 and then subsequently do think there's a real emergency, you will be delayed by having called 111 in the first place.

And I would have thought it perfectly obvious why you wouldn't want to take an incontinent semi-delirious person in a car to hospital, in case the emergency developed on the journey! That IS what ambulances are for.

trinity0097 Thu 11-Apr-13 16:21:55

I would have called 999 in the first place as I would consider that an emergency situation. Unable to get up, not lucid and unable to control bowels is an emergency situation in my books!

BriansBrain Thu 11-Apr-13 16:23:30

It must have been a worry but I totally disagree with your thread title.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing but you should have taken him in the car at the onset of your concern or called ooh if you were looking for advice.

999 also doesn't gaurantee an ambulance as they have other pathways of help they can use if the call doesn't warrant 999 so effectively all the caller of a non emergency 999 call is doing is blocking that medical dispatcher from being able to deal with a real emergency.

Thus endangering the lives of others.

propertyNIGHTmareBEFOREXMAS Thu 11-Apr-13 16:24:22

Jesus. What a mess. I think the message to take from your experience is that if after calling 111 you later need to call 999 don't reveal or divulge details of previous dealings you have had with 111 to 999 so that it can't orejudice or jeopardise handling of your call based on current 'live time' facts. I hope you father is well again soon .

What everyone else said, if he's diabetic, wasn't lucid and couldn't control his bowels I would have taken him straight to hospital rather than faffing about phoning 999 or 111.

AubreyAutumn Thu 11-Apr-13 16:28:11

The only time I have called 999 was when I was babysitting my niece, she was only about 11 months at the time.

She's not been too well all day, high temperature. When her eyes started rolling in the back of the head and she started to have a fit right in front of me.

The ambulance they sent was already on the way to someone else, but they deemed my niece's situation more serious so it was diverted.

I felt very bad about this, but it was out of my hands.

My point is 999 is always so busy that they don't need people adding to it and wasting resources when it's not a real emergency.

YABU.

What is 111, I've never heard of it

AlbertaCampion Thu 11-Apr-13 16:33:03

All fair points. I should have phrased it better. Actually, I should have given this a different headline entirely! My main beef, I think, is that when the situation DID deterioriate into a medical emergency, and we were instructed to call 999, we were stuffed because of the previous 111 call.

Moving my dad isn't easy and we didn't have the car to hand - my DB lives an hour away, and ended up driving down after calling 999 got us nowhere - but if we had known how the night would pan out, then yes, we would certainly have taken him ourselves.

Thinking about it, I'm more fed up with 999 than with 111. If 111 is overloaded and unable to provide a timely response, fine, but if a situation deteriorates like this one did and a non-emergency becomes something more than that, it's a terrible time to get bogged down in red tape and paperwork.

YABU - I was burgled rang 111 police were round within 20 mins. 111 operator was fantastic.

NEVER ring 999 unless it is an emergency

whois Thu 11-Apr-13 16:41:39

The ambulance service isn't a taxi service. Why didn't you call it a taxi and get your dad to A&E in the first place?

MammaTJ Thu 11-Apr-13 16:46:47

Calling a taxi for someone unable to control their bowels could be an expensive matter.

I would have dialled 999 initially too, not being lucid is an emergency imo.

AlbertaCampion Thu 11-Apr-13 16:48:34

whois - The state he was in, no taxi would have taken him.

Shutupanddrive Thu 11-Apr-13 16:48:40

YABU

Now I'm really confused here, and although I am not glad OP had this experience, I am glad its come up. As far as I thought was true, 111 merely replaces NHS Direct, rather than it being a new improved service. In fact, its less use than NHS Direct as the people who answer the phone have no medical experience.

Years ago, when DDs were small, I used to call NHS Direct for advice and you'd speak directly to a nurse (sometimes they called you back) - I remember calling once and saying please put me through to a nurse who has experience with croup and they did. My dear friend who has been a nursing sister for 30 years worked on there too.

Then she told me that they were trying to get rid of nurses and replace them with "advisers" - people who follow a scripted logarithm on screen e.g., if patient says A go to question B, if patient says C go to question D, that sort of thing. Whereas the nurses could use their experience to think hang on, this doesn't sound right, advisers can only follow the script. If you have a rare complication or something unusual, tough luck. My friend has saved people's lives knowing when to refer; needless to say she doesn't work for 111.

But anyway, my point is, if I rang NHS direct and took advice, it would then still be up to me to decide what to do. But on this occasion the OP dialled 111 and then seems to have lost autonomy, to people who are, after all, just call centre workers. 111 has been rightly criticised in the press so its timely this has come up. Does anyone else have experience or actually work there?

(NickyNacky - 111 is what's replaced NHS Direct, for police I think you mean 101 and as far as I can see we're only discussing ambulance and health stuff on this thread)

CloudsAndTrees Thu 11-Apr-13 17:48:36

YABVU.

You had a valid enough reason to call 999 in the first place. The fact that you chose not to does not mean you should be encouraging others o make bad choices.

Sirzy Thu 11-Apr-13 17:52:46

I am confused - why did you phone 111 if you wanted an ambulance?

whois Thu 11-Apr-13 17:53:59

whois - The state he was in, no taxi would have taken him

Ah I didn't see he couldn't control his bowels. Yeah would have been tricky getting a taxi then!

Sirzy Thu 11-Apr-13 17:54:44

*The ambulance they sent was already on the way to someone else, but they deemed my niece's situation more serious so it was diverted.

I felt very bad about this, but it was out of my hands.

My point is 999 is always so busy that they don't need people adding to it and wasting resources when it's not a real emergency.

YABU.*

that happened when I needed an ambulance for DS. Thankfully a local friend is a paramedic and he got on to the operator that we needed an ambulance NOW so they diverted one.

ChestysLonelyYoni Thu 11-Apr-13 17:56:10

YABextremelyU advising that.

If people ring 999 for non emergency stuff, people who actually need an ambulance will have to wait longer.

Stupidest suggestion I've seen for a long while angry

ceebeegeebies Thu 11-Apr-13 18:00:30

Sorry you had such a bad experience but how would you feel if, for example, your DF had a heart attack or one of your DC was choking and there were no ambulances available because they were all tied up dealing with non-emergencies because people thought it was easier to ring 999 for situations that didn't require an ambulance?

MammaMedusa Thu 11-Apr-13 18:08:40

I think you made the wrong choice to call 111 in the first place.

I have used 111, a couple of weeks ago, and it was very successful for us. We got the advice we needed, which was to visit OOH straight away, and when we got there our waiting time had been ticking down from the time I'd made the call. They also knew we had a contagious bug so had a quarantine area, etc, ready.

In my case, it was clearly not an emergency but I needed to know whether my child needed attention then or in the morning. They were good for that.

"too weak to get out of bed, unable to control his bowel movements and less than lucid" to me means a 999 call. 111 is an advice line, really, and you didn't need advice you needed an ambulance!

MrsDeVere Thu 11-Apr-13 18:17:47

I am not going to flame you because of your worrying experience.
But people should not phone 999 unless they need to.
Plenty have done it for far less reason than you have described though
OH was a paramedic and I worked in A&E for 6 years.
I would have thought you reasonable to call 999!

I phoned 111 last week to report a hate crime against my DS. The police came round within half an hour and were very nice.

My neighbours had called 999 against my son about an hour previously.

I can tell you who was the least popular out of the two of us (clue, it wasn't me they were pissed off with)

They took a dim view of her wasting their time with malicious calls and an even dimmer view when they realised what she was up to.

It is very unlikely I would have reported her without the 111 number. I wouldn't have called 999.

Hope you dad gets better soon.

dolallymum Thu 11-Apr-13 18:18:57

YABU.
Although difficult, you were able to deal with the situation yourselves and transport him to hospital in your own vehicle.
It really annoys me how people misuse the ambulance service, and don't stop and think that somewhere there is someone in much more need of that ambulance. Also the fact that depending on your local service there could only be 1 or 2 ambulances stationed close by. If they are called out somewhere else you need to wait for the closest available to get to you which could be miles away. Yet people don't stop and think about this and complain at how long they have to wait.
I give credit to all Ambulance staff and think a lot of the time they are very much taken for granted and they all do a fantastic job.
Sorry, rant over. blush

Sirzy Thu 11-Apr-13 18:23:31

I dont think calling 999 in this situation would have been a misuse of an ambulance.

The child who got an ambulance to a and e after falling down 2 steps and twisting their ankle is a waste of ambulance time not something like this

insancerre Thu 11-Apr-13 18:25:04

You should have phoned 999.
A diabetic who is weak and not lucid is an emergency

toboldlygo Thu 11-Apr-13 18:26:50

BurningBridges, I work for an OOH GP service which was briefly replaced by 111 - it lasted two days before it fell on its arse and we now have the contract back for a number of months.

The service I work for also uses non medically trained call centre staff to take incoming calls. We take all the patient's details and then have three options:

A 999 response according to a trigger list of symptoms (chest pain in people over a certain age, FAST positive patients, anyone unconscious or struggling to breathe etc.) The caller is transferred to the ambulance service who make their own decisions on whether to send a response or not, basically as if the patient had dialled 999 themselves.

Urgent triage - put into the triage queue for a GP to call back within 20 minutes. Again there's a trigger list for this.

Routine triage - put into the queue for a GP to call back within one hour. This is all other calls, no matter how mundane the problem.

The differences I can see with 111 is that you are not guaranteed to speak to a GP at any point. There is a loss of autonomy in favour of a logarithm or script. Under our current system this is not a problem despite using non medically trained call handlers (and to do otherwise is simply not an option - GPs and nurses should not be wasting their time or our money taking down patient demographics).

Our experience in those couple of days is that 111 took the calls, sat on them for 2-12 hours and then passed them through to us if they need a face-to-face consultation. At present we can arrange all of this in less than an hour. Home visits can be done in 1-4 hours. Appointments at primary care centres are available in as little as ten minutes. 111's intervention seemed an unnecessary step at best, a life-threatening delay at worst. They were not at all prepared - it took 20 minutes to get through to a call handler that first night and they were sending us totally incorrect referrals for patients 30 miles outside of our area, often by fax with no referral call so they could easily have been missed.

It was a shambles and I pity anyone in an area where it is currently operating, though I appreciate it may actually be an improvement for some not lucky enough to have an OOH like we do here. 111 was supposed to do away with these inconsistencies but it just seems to have dragged everyone down to a non satisfactory level instead of going for the gold standard everywhere.

toboldlygo Thu 11-Apr-13 18:31:57

MrsD, presumably you called 101 which is the police non-emergency number. 111 is for non-emergency medical problems, similar to/replacing NHS Direct and localised OOH services.

BOF Thu 11-Apr-13 18:40:12

It sounds like it was a medical emergency though- you were quite right to call 999. Diabetes can lead to dangerous consequences very quickly.

Very worrying that having called 111 first stuffed you up. YANBU.

renaldo Thu 11-Apr-13 18:45:23

111 is a shambles in my area
Could get thru for an hour a few Sunday's ago. My GP surgery urged me to make a formal complaint and I did.

Whatalotofpiffle Thu 11-Apr-13 18:51:35

I can't believe how harsh everyone is being! OP is complaining about delay in response due to 111 call being made. She did try and avoid 999 and required extra assistance when the situation deteriorated.

My grandad frequently needs 999 in what some people on here would not see as an emergency. He has random symptoms, rapid deterioration and no control of bowels. It is not safe to patient or relative to try and move them, get them downstairs etc in some situations. I would hate my nan to try and drive him herself!!

I don't think people should be so quick to encourage people to assess what is an emergency!!! Dialling 999 if you seriously think someone's life is in danger is the right course of action

MrsDeVere Thu 11-Apr-13 19:51:14

Oh yes , presumably I did blush

MrsDeVere Thu 11-Apr-13 19:51:44

I loved NHS direct.
I am sad its gone.

Thanks boldly - that's interesting to hear.

When DD had a head injury recently and started to go downhill, I rang 999 and said look we're dressed and have the car, would you prefer if we just went ourselves they said no wait for the ambulance which I think was the right advice with hindsight - the 999 operator knew best on that particular occasion.

In this area we also have a walk in centre and we can ring our GP's out of hours service. In a "hmm urgent" but not "arrghh emergency" I would use either of these, or wait till the morning, but never 111, I think someone said upthread its an advice line. And if boldly's insight is anything to go by, not even a very good advice line. sad

So I suppose what the OP is explaining to us is what happened to her, it worked out badly, and she would think twice before using 111 again. I agree. But I don't think for a moment she's advocating ringing 999 for minor issues - it sounds like her relative needed emergency admission to hospital. Common sense, surely?

WhenSheWasBadSheWasHopeful Thu 11-Apr-13 20:55:26

My experience of 111 was very different. I called at 1am as my daughter had croup and seemed to be struggling to breathe (wasn't quite bad enough to call 999 straight away).

Called 111 explained I was calling re my 2 year old. Operator immediately cut in and said "excuse me but is that noise your daughter breathing, I'm calling an ambulance" Ambulance arrived 5 mins later.

she was taken to a&e but no blue lights, she sounded a lot worse than she actually was

On the other hand when dh's grandmother fell and spent the night lying on the floor in her own waste we called 999. It took them 3 hours to come as we were not classed as an emergency (she needed help and could have broken her leg but wasn't about to die).

So on the whole YABU but it does sound like a hideous experience.

Alberta, I hope you are putting in a complaint.

VivaLeBeaver Thu 11-Apr-13 21:26:29

The only time I rang 111 they sent an emergency blue light ambulance. So if they think its serious enough I guess they can do it.

herethereandeverywhere Thu 11-Apr-13 21:36:50

I can understand the issue here. The issue is that at the outset we need to be able to self-diagnose an emergency - which is easy to do with hindsight but not necessarily at the time.

OP did what she thought was the right thing by "checking" the severity with 111 rather than automatically assume its a 999 situation - I have done this with NHS direct when deciding whether to take sick DC to emergency Dr or wait for an appointment.

This seems to have resulted in being caught in a circle of red tape/inefficiency/incompetency.

It seems strange that 111 cannot refer a case to 999 to dispatch an ambulance at speed but 999 can delay an ambulance dispatch in order to check notes with 111 confused

OP YANBU to feel as aggrieved as you do but I think you know you are BU to word your advice int he way you have.

yabu to suggest people bypass 111 altogether.

but its horrendous that when the situation deteriorated and you did need an ambulance that your prior call to 111 caused so much hassle over getting one!

i'm glad i'm literally 5 minutes drive from A&E, its quicker just to throw people in the car and hightail it over than to wait on the ambulance.

that being said, we also have an ambulance parking station at the bottom of our road so it would be just as quick to run and bang on their door too!

EMUZ Fri 12-Apr-13 00:40:09

I don't know what happened there with your call to 111. I know in our area it makes no difference if you have called 111 previously, become worried and ring 999. It could have been the call wasn't passed from 111 and that's why they wanted to speak to them, it could have been there were no ambulances available
To me (working with it), it's working almost the same as NHS direct did. I mean if you are worried then I'd rather you rang 999 and everything was ok rather than not doing it, people can be triaged
111 can refer (and very often do) to 999 and pass calls over. It shouldn't delay an a,balance dispatch because if you are on the phone to 999 that doesn't delay it, it is all computerised and so someone can be dispatching an ambulance while another person is talking to you

teacherandguideleader Fri 12-Apr-13 09:04:48

I find it so hard to know what is an emergency.

BF's father recently had a heart attack - definite emergency.

However, I still feel like a fraud for when I phoned 999 at 2am when I had meningitis - I'd been unwell a few days and hated calling for a headache. I often wonder if I should have just got a taxi. I'd phoned NHS direct, and they had asked me my symptoms - I was told quite quickly to hang up and call 999 - the ambulance was there in 6 minutes. After I was discharged, I got readmitted with complications (fluid leaking from around my brain) - I felt even worse about phoning the ambulance that time although I clearly was very ill.

diaimchlo Fri 12-Apr-13 09:25:12

My mother who is a type 2 diabetic also suffered the sam DV bug as OP's DF, she was in bed for 3 days extremely ill with exactly the same issues.

One night in the early hours she had ended up on the floor as her blood sugars had dipped too low, I called the GP out who came and explained to her that she needed to start eating small amounts and rest The following morning her carer phoned to say she had found her on the floor and that her sugars had dipped again, she had no recollection of falling at all. I went round and after looking at her dialed 999, explained what had happened, gave all health history, that she was still on the floor, that we were unwilling to move her due to shoulder and hip pain and informed them that her blood sugar at that time was 2.6. I was told that this was not classed as an emergency and to await a phone call in an hour or an ambulance no earlier than an hour. I was to say the very least less than pleased. We were lucky as an ambulance turned up within 5 mins and she was admitted to hospital where she still is now and the paramedics were brilliant.

So my point is that even if you phone 999 they do not come if they assess your situation as being a not an urgent emergency.

givemeaclue Fri 12-Apr-13 09:47:40

Yabu. If everyone did that then people who really need an ambulance, like your father, would have to wait longer. You should have got ambulance right away instead of all this faff, that is your fault not the nhs!

AlbertaCampion Sat 13-Apr-13 08:21:22

Thanks to everyone for all the views. I am a little calmer now! My DF is still in hospital but looks to be on the mend - I'm off to see him later this morning.

Tbh I was expecting a solid gold flaming, but I have really appreciated the range of viewpoints, and posting here has made me realise that my anger was perhaps misdirected.

The other thing I have found really interesting has been the discussion on here about how difficult it can be to make an appropriate assessment of an emergency situation that would justify a 999 call. On the night we called for an ambulance, I wanted to call 999 but my DB - who admittedly wasn't there at the time, but had the situation described to him in detail over the phone - was adamant that 111 should be called. In fact, he was outraged that the 999 call was being considered.

The clincher, for those posters who were horrified that we didn't call 999 in the first place? My DB is an ambulance driver! (Sorry: didn't mean to drip-feed, but didn't realise the discussion would go in this direction.) Clearly his bar is set VERY high, but perhaps it serves to reinforce what some of you have said on here about how it can be tricky to (literally) make the right call.

nurseneedshelp Sat 13-Apr-13 08:39:48

What a ridiculous thread!
The ambulance service is stretched to the point where our staff don't even get breaks and you're encouraging folk to ring 999????

Someone with D+V is not an emergency regardless of their diabetes!

This outbreak is being made worse by people coming to A+E with it!

Stay at home and ensure plenty of fluids are taken.

Baffled that you didn't just get him in the car if you were genuinely worried???

MrsDeVere Sat 13-Apr-13 10:06:41

Did you read that the person in question had been admitted?

It wasn't just a case of D+V but a also a confused and elderly man.

Just a tip. The over use of exclamation and question marks does little to strengthen your point and can make you look a bit dim. HTH smile

beals692 Sat 13-Apr-13 11:43:44

Sorry to slightly hijack the thread, but what exactly is 111? Is it supposed to be the same as NHS Direct but a bit more crap?

I only found out about it after it had come in and the website says it is for "if you need medical help fast, but it’s not a 999 emergency". I have rung NHS Direct a few times in the past because I wasn't sure how concerned I should be about certain symptoms (although, in all but one case, I was 100% sure I didn't need an ambulance). Their response then ranged between, "you must see an out-of-hours doctor today" to "that can be treated with self-care at home by doing x but ring back if x happens". My understanding of NHS Direct is that it was to help people assess whether something was suitable for self-care or needed a doctor and, if so, which particular avenue of the NHS they should use (ie how urgent it was). How is 111 different?

Sirzy Sat 13-Apr-13 11:47:25

Nurseneedhelp (I really hope that isn't an indication of your profession!)

Did you actually read what the OP posted? Someone in that state is very much an emergency and needs to be seen as soon as possible

Buddhagirl Sat 13-Apr-13 12:11:12

999 for life threatening things. Not being able to control your bowels and not being lucid is not life threatening. They are not a taxi service.

beals692 Sat 13-Apr-13 12:15:16

"999 for life threatening things. Not being able to control your bowels and not being lucid is not life threatening."

But 111 told the OP to call 999 so they must have thought it was??

neolara Sat 13-Apr-13 12:29:52

Actually, sometimes a diabetic with D and V is an emergency. Last year I took my diabetic friend to hospital after a particularly nasty d & v bug. The nurse took one look at her and whisked her straight through to resus. I wasn't allowed to go through "in case it scared the baby" (my toddler). That was the first clue I'd got quite how serious the situation was. She had gone into DKA. My friend was subsequently told she had been 2 hours from death and spent the next week in a high dependency ward (which is not quite intensive care, but not far off). It was very alarming to see how quickly things escalated.

MrsDeVere Sat 13-Apr-13 13:45:17

999 is not only for 'life threatening' things is it?

It is for serious things. Not all serious things are life threatening.

My DD had a fit as a reaction to chemo. About a month after she was diagnosed with cancer. It was a short fit. So not 'life threatening'. Are you seriously suggesting that it didn't warrant an ambulance?

What if your child breaks a leg at home? Do you think it a good idea to get them into a car and drive them to hospital strapped into their car seat with no proper pain relief?

999 is for emergencies and emergencies do not have to be life or death. To suggest people using an ambulance for anything less than a potentially fatal illness is like using a 'taxi service' is irresponsible.

And I worked in A&E for 6 years and my OH was a paramedic. I have no time for people who misuse the system.

Buddhagirl Sat 13-Apr-13 13:53:56

Oh fair play then. Nhs should release a list of what's appropriate to call for and what's not!

Buddhagirl Sat 13-Apr-13 13:55:27

I've always been told that you should only call an ambulance in a life threatening emergency!

Sirzy Sat 13-Apr-13 13:59:51

You should only call an ambulance in an emergency. Not all emergencies are life threatening bug their are still times when ambulances are needed.

I have actually been told off by a and e staff for not calling an ambulance in the past but from what the OP has said then calling 999 would have been very much the right thing to do

expatinscotland Sat 13-Apr-13 14:00:38

I rang 999 when I set the kitchen on fire. DH was able to put the fire out with foam, but the smoke was too thick to get to the window to open it. No immediate danger, but it was in a tenement and the first brigade got there fast!

MrsDeVere Sat 13-Apr-13 14:02:55

it certainly shouldn't be used for a bee sting (seen it happen, no complications JUST a bee sting) hmm

or by someone who wants a paramedic to watch them go to sleep (happened to OH).

But if someone is in a great deal of pain, need to be moved by people who know what they are doing etc I think an ambulance is called for.

Besides, a layperson wouldn't be able to assess what is life threatening or not would they?

But you are right, they should NOT be used as a taxi service and they most certainly were when I worked in A&E.

pigletmania Sat 13-Apr-13 14:06:40

You should have called 999 initially, because your fil is diabetic and because of te bug could deteriorate rapidly and could die. Really if after 1 hour of getting nowhere put fil in car and drve him to hospital not wait all that time

expatinscotland Sat 13-Apr-13 14:07:52

'999 for life threatening things. Not being able to control your bowels and not being lucid is not life threatening."'

Someone with diabetes who is becoming less than lucid and cannot keep fluids in them from D&V can be in serious trouble. Such a person's blood sugars can become dangerously low or high and kill them.

Longdistance Sat 13-Apr-13 14:09:27

Your df was a real emergency as he couldn't get out of bed, and has a complication of being diabetic. Therefor you should have called 999 in this situation.

pigletmania Sat 13-Apr-13 14:10:53

It's because fil was diabetic that 999 should be called because he could deteriorate rapidl and needs medical intervention

ouryve Sat 13-Apr-13 14:14:34

I think the pivotal factor here is the diabetes. Someone non-diabetic would have been far more resilient with these initial symptoms, whilst someone with diabetes would be highly likely to lose control of their blood sugar levels with potentially life threatening consequences.

So for a diabetic, I would have called 999 in the first place
For someone who is in good health, normally, then 111 would have been appropriate in the first instance.

hackmum Sat 13-Apr-13 14:21:28

herethereandeverywhere: "I can understand the issue here. The issue is that at the outset we need to be able to self-diagnose an emergency - which is easy to do with hindsight but not necessarily at the time."

This. People are unfairly giving the OP a hard time. Presumably the OP started off thinking something like "Don't want to call an ambulance, don't want to bother A&E, don't want to be one of those selfish parasites everyone complains about clogging up A&E and misusing ambulances etc". A lot of the time you just don't know whether it's an emergency or not. In those circumstances, it would seem to make sense to check with 111 first. The fact that it was then not a straightforward matter to escalate to 999 when it became necessary is extremely worrying.

purplewithred Sat 13-Apr-13 14:37:04

111 should have put you straight through to 999 and all the previous notes should have gone through at the same time. You should not have been told to call 999 yourself (I know that's the case round here). I would ask for a review of the case (although you may be in a bit of a queue...)

D&V in a diabetic patient can become a medical emergency. A diabetic with D&V has extreme difficulty in maintaining blood sugar levels. If Blood sugar dips critically low then results can be very serious indeed including unconsciousness, convulsions and coma. Paramedics can deliver a range of on-the-spot treatments including drugs and intravenous glucose that will stabilise the patient and stop them deteriorating further while they are on their way to hospital.

Calling an ambulance is the absolutely the right thing to do if the patient is clearly unwell and deteriorating, which was the situation here. It would be the wrong thing if the patient had a bit of a funny tummy but was basically well.

specialsubject Sat 13-Apr-13 14:50:17

ambulance 999 is chest pain, worsening breathing difficulties, severe bleeding, unconsciousness or stroke symptoms.

not normal labour - that's predictable and can be planned for. Even the 'messed up taxi' thing can be covered by discussion beforehand with the taxi firm and getting hold of plastic sheeting. It's not like you don't get a chance to sort this out in advance. Check out the 'nee naw' book!

the 999 operator prioritises.

no-one's mentioned first aid - unless you live next door to the ambulance depot, you may well need to do some CPR if the above happen. Go learn, everybody. I've known a life extended because people knew CPR.

pigletmania Sat 13-Apr-13 15:10:34

Special about is unpredictable and so are taxi, when you call you basically get any one allocated to you, tey might be coming from a job so might not have te plastic sheet. Labour can change quickly (baby becomes distressed, cord round te neck, baby stuck etc) could turn into an emergency. Really the operator will prioritise not you

Montybojangles Sat 13-Apr-13 18:44:15

nurseneedshelp might I suggest you update your diabetes knowledge. Anyone with diabetes is advised to contact an HCP if they have diarrhoea or vomiting for more than 24hrs, and told to get themselves to hospital ASAP if lethargic, weak, unable to tolerate fluids etc.

They are likely to need IV fluids and quite probably insulin, as any type of illness can cause dramatically elevated blood glucose levels. Couple this with dehydration and you are on your way to DKA or HHS, both potentially life threatening diabetes complications. As the ops father was displaying signs related to both of these complications she was perfectly right to want a paramedic crew to come and commence treatment.

I'm sure that next time hope there isn't one op the family will be seeking help much earlier on, but then then its easy to be wise after the event.

Wishing your father a speedy recovery.

featherbag Sat 13-Apr-13 20:08:29

Your experience was awful OP. But your thread title may end up contributing to someone's deterioration or death while waiting for an ambulance which is tied up dealing with someone who took your advice when they didn't really need 999. I suggest you ask MNHQ to amend it ASAP.

featherbag Sat 13-Apr-13 20:12:19

For those asking how to decide what needs 999 and what doesn't, look here http://www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk/about/whatisnhsdirect/choosewell

Sorry if anyone's already linked to this,don't have time to read whole thread"

expatinscotland Sat 13-Apr-13 20:37:42

Diabetic who can't stop vomitting and having diarrhoea and becoming less lucid = a person whose blood sugar is probably getting too far out of control = emergency. This man could have easily slipped into a diabetic coma and/or had a seizure and because of his vomitting, couldn't be treated orally.

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