Saturday, 22 June 2013

NHS changes fail the chronically ill

Quick diagnosis and even quicker discharge !

Last Thursday evening, my good friend called me for advice about his chest pains. He hates admitting any ailment but I persuaded him to call NHS Direct.  Next I skyped him, to find out what was said, getting an irascible response about how they passed him around but couldn't get anyone for him to speak with. His irritability wasn't helped by his continuing chest pain, I told him I'd call a paramedic but he only agreed to call the Out of Hours service.

Within ten minutes he had a visit from a paramedic who said he should be taken to hospital for cardiac assessment.  At approximately 10.30pm, he was on a trolley having an ECG.  After examining the trace, an F1 decided that he had 'acute Angina', which would obviously require further investigation and possible intervention..  However - and most alarmingly - he was discharged at 5.30am the next morning, with a box of reflux tablets and instructions to see his GP 'within a day or so.'  My friend had to take a taxi back to Barry at his own expense, which represents a significant absence of patient care, especially with such a serious diagnosis.

As a Cardiac patient myself, I couldn't understand why he wasn't placed on a monitor and kept in for the essential further tests, including an angiogram, which would reveal the extent of his coronary heart disease.  Such casual treatment of a patient with angina is totally inadequate, and should be investigated immediately.  As it has been left, my friend could be re-admitted soon, perhaps following a potentially fatal heart attack. The alternative is for his GP to refer him back to the hospital for further investigation. In the meantime, he was given no anti-platelet medication, no GTN spray, no statins, and not even an aspirin to help prevent a damaging blood clot.

Such poor treatment is unacceptable and must not be repeated.   R. W.

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