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for being really fecked off with GPs

(135 Posts)
banana87 Wed 13-Mar-13 23:32:52

I understand that antibiotics do not work when you have a viral infection.

However, last week DD2 (15m) was clearly not right. I called GP and told them her symptoms (sleeping 17+ hours, bad cough, high fever, not eating). They told me (over the phone) that it was a virus. Wait it out. I waited 2 days and took her to see a private GP who immediately diagnosed her with a chest infection and prescribed antibiotics.

My SIL has been sick since end of last week. She is getting progressively worse (same symptoms as above other than sleeping!). She phoned GP Monday. He told her (over the phone) it was a virus, take paracetemol and wait it out. It got to the point that she felt her chest tightening and heavy so went in the next day (yesterday). He acknowledged that she was quite ill, but gave her an inhaler and said it wasn't an infection. She's worse today than she was yesterday and is now going to see a private GP.

Last winter my DD1 had persistent high fevers that did not respond to calpol or neurofen. We were in A&E twice and dr twice. Every time, "it's just a virus". After 6 weeks I had enough and took her in and said I wanted her to have blood tests as I was convinced she had cancer. Funnily, they gave me antibiotics even though "there is no sign of infection" and within 3 days the fevers were gone and have never returned.

Also last winter my then 5 week old baby had a high temp. I took her to the GP. "Just a virus". Next day, same thing and on call dr had us go straight to A&E where I was told "it's just a virus". Luckily a very good consultant was on call and thought it would be wise to do a chest x-ray "just in case". She had PNEUMONIA.

I understand that there are worries about antibiotic resistance. But what is the point in withholding antibiotics until one is so sick that there is no other option? In all of the above examples, antibiotics were or are currently being withheld needlessly. Why?

Murphy0510 Thu 14-Mar-13 00:08:50

It sounds as though you've had bad experiences. I can see why you are annoyed, but not all GPs are shit

CSIJanner Thu 14-Mar-13 07:16:56

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

gettingtogrips Thu 14-Mar-13 07:31:44

Have you considered that the private GP will just give you whatever you want so that you come back next time? Why not just try another NHS GP?

Viruses can be worse than bacterial infection, just because you're very sick doesn't mean it's bacteria

Sirzy Thu 14-Mar-13 07:35:10

To be fair a lot of infections are viral, and even pneumonia can be caused by a virus.

This "just a virus" notion is rubbish "just" a virus nearly killed my son at 8 weeks old.

The thing that would annoy me is them trying to diagnose over the phone rather than the actual diagnosis.

FasterStronger Thu 14-Mar-13 08:05:16

You don't know that your first doctor was wrong. Being convinced your dc has cancer is way Ott....

idiuntno57 Thu 14-Mar-13 08:49:32

surely the point is that a virus won't respond to antibiotics.

Your GP seems to lack people skills but it is not possible to say they were wrong at the point of diagnosis.

As patients we crave a little bit of green paper when we leave the surgery.


Murphy0510 Thu 14-Mar-13 09:04:33

I agree with gettingtogrips. A private doctor will tell you what you want to hear and will prescribe you what you want. You only have to watch something like Portland babies to see that private healthcare providers totally pander around the patient.

Softlysoftly Thu 14-Mar-13 09:10:49

YABU you paid for what you wanted, doesn't mean it wasn't a virus.

In fact the fact your SIL has exactly the same symptoms makes it more likely a virus is at work as bacterial infections tend to be secondary (you get a virus and the bacteria take advantage of a busy immune system to sneak in). So the liklehood of the same virus followed by the exact same bacterial infection in the exact same way is slim surely?

There is every possibility that the virus would have run its course in the same timeline as your antibiotics "worked".

rollmopses Thu 14-Mar-13 09:15:03

FasterStronger, sadly, you are very wrong. My 14 year old relative was diagnosed with leukemia after a long viral, or so it was thought, illness, where symptoms, such as persistent fever, just didn't go away. No previous symptoms of any kind. Just a very long 'cold'. sad

rollmopses Thu 14-Mar-13 09:18:01

Without testing, no doctor can know if the illness is caused by virus or bacteria. Testing, however, can take time and it costs money.
Antibiotics are prescribed largely, by what GP think the cause might be, based on experience. They don't know though, unless they test.

Shakirasma Thu 14-Mar-13 09:21:07


GPs absolutely do have to adopt a "wait and see" attitude, because most infections are viral, antibiotics will not work on them. Not only does the liberal use of them cause resistant bacterial to develop, many people don't realise just how nasty antibiotic medicines are, you don't want to be taking them needlessly.

What I don't like is the phone consultation. Ok for a follow up, but patients should be examined physically, as some bacterial infections have specific signs, like pus and rashes, which could be diagnosed immediately.

FasterStronger Thu 14-Mar-13 09:29:33

rollmopses - my comment was in the context of the OP, it was not meant generally.

lyndie Thu 14-Mar-13 09:34:21

I think in the first case you should have been seen and assessed but likely your child didn't need antibiotics, the private GP will give you what you want to be sure you keep returning. They have no budget restrictions or targets and are under no scrutiny to prescribe appropriately. The same with your SIL. With your other child you had tests, no sign of infection and after 6 weeks got antibiotics? How do you know it was the antibiotics that worked rather than the child got better on their own? With your baby, especially at 5 weeks things can change rapidly - any very young baby with a fever should be assessed in hospital.

Sidge Thu 14-Mar-13 09:34:53

Bacterial infections usually have a fairly clear presentation - not always admittedly but if a patient presents with a cough, runny nose, low grade fever and yet has a clear throat, ears, chest and is managing fluids then it's probably a viral illness.

IME as a patient and a HCP people are told "It's probably a virus - try x, y and z and *if it doesn't get better or gets worse then come back*"

Also remember that GPs will see dozens of people per day or week presenting with the same symptoms as viruses do the rounds; however IMO babies and small children should always be seen and not receive a telephone consultation.

banana87 Thu 14-Mar-13 09:36:18

It wasn't just one GP. It was several, and over different practices. I agree that the "wait and see" attitude is necessary to prevent over prescribing, however when said patient comes back again and again with the same problem, it's time for tests.

And no, I wasn't wrong in thinking about cancer, high fevers for no reason can be one of the first signs. She had also lost so much weight.

Saving money can sometimes kill people, and the current attitude in general that everything is a virus (without first examining a patient) is careless. I know my GP practice are not the only ones who do it, and they are definitely one of the best practices I have been with.

LadyPessaryPam Thu 14-Mar-13 09:38:31

rollmopses you are right, they guess, or they have extremely good eyesight to see bacteria or viruses!

In the UK the guesses go

1. It's a virus, take paracetamol, drink water and rest, come back if you are still ill in 1 or 2 weeks

2. OK it may be bacterial, have this broad spectrum cheap AB, usually amoxicillin, come back if you are still ill in a week

3. OK it may be a different bacteria, have this different AB, usually erythromycin , come back if you are still ill in a week

4. OK You need to see a specialist......

PetiteRaleuse Thu 14-Mar-13 09:39:02

YABU but children and babies should always be seen and not diagnosed over the phone. I find it surprising that a GP didn't pick up on pneumonia - I thought that they could pick it up with a stethoscope. DD1 was sent to hospital when her doctor listened to her chest and said it was pneumonia. They did a chest xray afterwards to see how bad it was.

Private GPs do tend to over prescribe in order to keep the patients happy.

banana87 Thu 14-Mar-13 09:41:12

Just to add that in all my examples, we were presenting with more worrying symptoms such as high fever, persistent cough with tightness in the chest, and severe fatigue. I had the same illness, however with no fever, cough that was easily controlled with over the counter medication, and was able to get on with things. What I had was viral, what my dd had and what my SIL has has turned into something more sinister that needs medical treatment.

Sirzy Thu 14-Mar-13 09:44:48

But high fever can be a sign of a viral infection to. It always amazes me how many people belive they know better than medical professionals!

(I am not saying mistakes aren't made but in this situation I am not sure mistakes were made)

banana87 Thu 14-Mar-13 09:45:01

"Weeks" can kill. MIL who saw a different GP was fobbed off for weeks for a backache that they diagnosed as siatica. Couple of months later she was diagnosed with kidney cancer. The tumor was so large it went from her kidney to her lungs and she died 3 months later. If a patient is getting worse they should be given a few days, not a few weeks before receiving treatment.

Sirzy Thu 14-Mar-13 09:45:10

And for persistant cough with chest tightness then giving an inhaler is probably the best course of action.

banana87 Thu 14-Mar-13 09:46:49

Sirzy, common sense tells me that if you get sick, you tend to get worse and then get better. Viral illnesses usually last a week. If you are getting worse and worse rather than better, especially as that week is coming to an end, surely that mean its not "just a virus"??

MillyMollyMandy78 Thu 14-Mar-13 09:47:11

Sorry YABU antibiotics do not work on viruses , only on bacterial infections, which have specific symptoms. Also, many people actually feel very unwell after a course of antibiotics, as they fight good bacteria too. So it's not just a case of saving money or building up immunity, if a doctor gives out antibiotics unnecessarily tyhey can actually make the patient feel much worse.
It does seem odd that your gp made a diagnosis over the phone and i agree he needs to work on his people skills.
Also agree that the private gp was just keepin you happy so u would come back. Many private gps are just nhs ones picking up a few extra shifts and they get paid seriously big bucks to pander to their patients so they return eg giving unnecessary medication, ordering tests that just aren't needed ... But if the patient wants, the patient gets!

Sirzy Thu 14-Mar-13 09:48:18

the virus that nearly killed DS got worse between days 5 and 7 and then got better slowly from there.

Not all viruses follow the same course.

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