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to complain/sue my GP? (long rant)

(56 Posts)
mmrred Sat 17-Oct-09 23:10:50

We've all had swine flu. Me and DD (15) had it first, then DH came down with it. He had the Tami-flu, seemed to recover, went back to work last Friday, then on Tuesday night his temp went sky-high, vomiting, sweat rolling off him, shaking...I should have called an ambulance but you don't, do you?

On the phone next morning, GP point-blank refused to visit, talked to him on the phone, told him it was a recurrence of the flu, take paracetemol, can't have more Tami-flu, said I could pick up a 7-day sick note from the surgery.

Next day, another horrendous night, he's no better, and now can't drink because he feels so sick, clearly getting dehydrated, finally get GP to agree to make an emergency home visit after morning surgery - she only has one call to make, she says, she'll be there at the latest 2.30. 3.30pm there's STILL no f*cking sign of her.

Now, at this point I should mention that DH has a history of Hodgekins Lymphoma - he's been clear for 10 years but has reduced lung function and a suppressed immune system (lots of radio and chemo therapy). Ironically he's in the at-risk group and would have been offered the vac but he caught it first. Obviously GP surgery know this.

So, at 3.30 I ring AGAIN. Am p*ssed about by some snotty receptionist and put on hold for 20 minutes because I refuse to hang up and wait for the Dr to phone me ('cos we all know what would happen if I did) and finally I get the cow on the phone, lecturing me about how busy she is, so I tell her that if anything is wrong with my man I will have no compunction about suing her for malpractice and using the sick note following phone diagnosis as evidence. She arrives within 20 minutes.

Even then, she says 'if it was up to her' she would give DH 250mg's of antibiotic and 'review' the situation in 24 hours. DH continuously tells her he feels dreadful (please bear in mind I had to get my mum & dad to help me lift him out of bed to change the sheets as the bed, pillows, everything was soaked with his sweat)

Finally she consents to call an ambulance - the hospital are great and my DH gets all the tests - he has pneumonia and spends the first 24 hours on an oxygen mask and drip.

He's still on I/V antibiotics now. I am so angry I don't know what to do. Is there an excuse for this? What do I do about complaining?

lisad123wantsherquoteinDM Sat 17-Oct-09 23:15:32

First things first note it all down, then get your man well before you do anything. Hitting out in anger wont help, do it all when you are calm. Not sure of how you go about it tbh. I need to do the same this end really, they missed DH leukemia 4 times and then swine flu was missed leaving him unwell for 6 months as his still having chemo.

Hope your husband is ok. DD2 had this last winter, its nasty and knocks it out of you for a good few weeks, so make sure he rest

seaglass Sat 17-Oct-09 23:21:12

A few people I know who've had swine flu had pneumonia shortly afterwards - surely the symptoms your DH had should have flagged up concerns for the GP, and I'm completely shocked that they didn't!
I'm not sure how you go about complaining, but even without his medical history, they haven't responded very professionally, so I think you should definately take it further.
Hope he feels better soon

herbietea Sat 17-Oct-09 23:21:36

Message withdrawn

herbietea Sat 17-Oct-09 23:24:36

Message withdrawn

alypaly Sat 17-Oct-09 23:34:38

telephone diagnosis is appauling and wrong as serious things like pneumonia can be missed by the lay person....

cherryblossoms Sat 17-Oct-09 23:57:39

I think i would write a letter to the practice manager.

Write down notes of the situation now but leave it a few days before writing the letter; no point writing a furious letter, however cathartic it might be.

Approach it as though you are offering help!

Along the lines of: Dear Practice Manager, I realise that the swine flu outbreak is presenting various difficulties, I would like to tell you of a recent experience of our family, with a view to highlighting what I felt was a shortcoming in the healthcare we usually receive from you. I am sure that you are interested in delivering best pratcise and it is with a view to facilitating this that I bring our recent experience to your attention.

And then outline what happened and what was wrong with it and how you felt it could have been done better.

I guess that would have been something like:

I was surprised that the GP, who was aware of my dh's medical history (lymphoma) seemed not to take into account his falling into the category of those at increased risk of serious complications. I certainly felt that this was not properly taken into consideration when assessing how quickly our call should have been responded to, and that this call should have been answered, more quickly, with a home visit.

And I guess you could finish with a statement of the fact that pneumonia was diagnosed at the hospital.

Sorry, vocab and layout is poor!

If you get no joy from the manager ... . I don't know. What are they like generally? If they're generally OK, I'd be inclined to leave it with the letter to the P. M..

I don't know. The swine flu advice is pretty odd. In our practice you weren't supposed to enter if ill - which surely must have deterred and confused a lot of people. Fine if you had swine flu and it passed. But bad if you had something else or developed a complication. I'll bet your experience wasn't a one-off.

mmrred Sun 18-Oct-09 00:04:12

Thanks everyone, and Cherryblossoms, that is very practical advice. The surgery are always rubbish generally, although some of the individual dr's are good. Will start with letter to the PM, but might copy to PCT.

jasper Sun 18-Oct-09 00:05:47

yes YABU
"finally I get the cow on the phone"


1dilemma Sun 18-Oct-09 00:05:55

I'm sorry your dh is ill and I hope he gets better soon

I'm not sure AIBU is a good place for this

but you're clearly a competant adult why didn't you call the ambulance yourself? your GP is just that she is not personally responsible for your every need/health decision

WickedWench Sun 18-Oct-09 00:11:54


If he was as bad as you say then you should have called an ambulance without reference to the GP.

And yes, I've been there myself when medical professionals are saying one thing when you know it's another. You've got to do what YOU think is best.

cherryblossoms Sun 18-Oct-09 00:14:48

1dilemma - ambulances cost A LOT of money! I don't know if it's true but someone once told me the cost is over £1,000. (Surely that can't be true!)

I am Mrs Neurotic of Neurotic-on-Sea and I have to say I would ask for advice before calling the ambulance! No way would I call one out if I doubted for a minute that the situation warranted it.

The problem is that you're not supposed to actually go to A and E with those symptoms or go to the surgery - which leaves you with a bit of a problem. Most people do think twice about causing trouble/inconvenience.

I, personally, reckon it's worth a letter to the P. M. just because I can imagine someone less persistent/unassertive being very unwilling to make a fuss about calling a doctor out. Let alone an ambulance.

lisad123wantsherquoteinDM Sun 18-Oct-09 00:15:55

have to say though in GP defence, A&E missed DD2 pnemonia 3 times too, only after I questioned if it was they did xray, so could well have been the hospital missed it. GP's are just that, general, they have little bits of knowledge.
If I were me I have learnt to trust guts and go with your own feelings.
hope his well soon

FlamingoBingo Sun 18-Oct-09 00:17:07

You can see your DH, the GP can't. She's got guidelines saying to only see potential swine flu patients if absolutely necessary. Why didn't you call an ambulance yourself?

You say 'she eventually consented to call an ambulance' but you don't need her permission to do it!

Sorry, but YABU.

I hope your DH gets well soon - must be very frightening for you all.

jasper Sun 18-Oct-09 00:18:53

Yes, hope your dh gets well soon

mmrred Sun 18-Oct-09 00:19:55

She certainly is responsible for turning up when she says she is going to, though, surely? Or giving medical advice (eg phone an ambulance)to ordinary people who don't know what swine flu looks like and what pneumonia looks like? Or not to give a sicknote out to someone in a high-risk category without seeing them?

I didn't phone an ambulance because I didn't want to infect a lot of other people with swine flu and because the Dr he spoke to on the phone said to give him 4-hourly paracetemol!

And I would love to know, jasper, what a 'reasonable' reaction in this situation would have been?

6feetundertheGroundhogs Sun 18-Oct-09 00:21:15

JAsper??? shock A little harsh perhaps??

OP, Firstly I hope DH is OK, thank God he's in the right place now.

You've had a scary awful day (My Mum had pneumonia last year)

Make the notes, but leave it all to one side until DH is stable, and on the mend. You will need all your strength to help him get better and look after yourself and the DC.

I understand entirely why you felt as you did today, most if not all of us would feel the same actually. OK with hindsight, an ambulance would have been a good idea to call, but panic does that.. None of that is important right now, not a second of it. Get your DH well and home is more important.

Take care of yourself, DH and the DC. Best of luck to you all.

MadBadAndWieldingAnAxe Sun 18-Oct-09 00:22:28

YANBU to be irritated at mis-diagnosis over the phone.

YANBU to consider making a complaint to practice manager.

But YABU to think that the solution might be to sue the GP. How exactly will extracting a sum of money out of the NHS ease your husband's symptoms? Or make things better for you or other patients in the future?

jasper Sun 18-Oct-09 00:25:36

calling the doc a cow?
Talking of suing the GP?
The Op asked if she was being unresaonable.


cherryblossoms Sun 18-Oct-09 00:25:54

Yes, I agree with MadBad - don't sue. Sueing is not, not good. Sueing is v. v, YABU.

And I do hope he's well soon.

1dilemma Sun 18-Oct-09 00:26:20

less than 1,000

people call them when they hit their thumb with a hammer!
people demand home visits because their inhaler is in the bedroom with the dc and they don't want to wake them up!

op did post 'finally she consents to call an ambulance' I took that as implying that op expressed concern otherwise

it's clear from op post that she felt her dh was ill

op dh had high temp, vomiting, sweating so much bed needed changing, was dehydrated and was shaking with a history of lymphoma and op tells us his immune system is suppressed, I recall sign on GP window about not going in if you have a sore throat but I really am not sure what OP is describing fits into that category but I don't know I wasn't there.

however it's clear OP is a sensible competant caring person etc etc she doesn't need permission to call an ambulance

mmrred Sun 18-Oct-09 00:27:29

6feetundertheground - thank you so much. I'm completely past myself, worried sick - he's now had a reaction to the antibiotics and has been throwing up, and I'm furious with myself for not phoning a bl**dy ambulance.

mmrred Sun 18-Oct-09 00:31:03

And I'd ask people to consider whether they would insist on an ambulance being called when a doctor was standing right there making it clear she thought it was unecessary!

lisad123wantsherquoteinDM Sun 18-Oct-09 00:31:21

dont blame yourself we have been there too, hinsight is a wonderful thing.

FlamingoBingo Sun 18-Oct-09 00:31:27

OP, you make it very clear in your initial post that you were seriously worried about your DH's condition. You can't blame the GP for this. She is also responsible for all the other patients on her books, and was probably late because she overran talking to other ill people - that's her job.

Look at it this way:

"AIBU to be really hacked off that I've just been threatened with being sued by one of my patients when I was an hour late going to see her ill husband who, she said, was very ill, but not ill enough for an ambulance, when I was delayed by several patients who really needed my time this morning? I didn't get my lunch break because of how busy my surgery was this morning, and had already spoken to this woman on the phone."

Yes, write to the PM to highlight the situation, but this is not a case for suing or even properly complaining - YABU.

You are also being very worried and reacting in a very understandable fashion, but you need to calm down before you do anything, and really, really consider what happened here and what people are telling you.

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