Left At Home

Picture the scene.
You are 60 years old, suddenly you have started to have real trouble breathing – it's like running a marathon and then being forced to breath through a drinking straw.

You have never had anything like this before, deep in your chest you can feel the wheezing as you breathe in and out.

It's night.

You phone your GP and he comes out to see you. He gives you eight tiny pink pills, and tells you that you need to go to the hospital as an emergency case. He calls for an ambulance.

Then he leaves.

I honestly can't believe this – you have a patient who is not only 'properly' ill, but is also rightfully scared. So how can you leave them at home and not stay with them for the short time it takes for an ambulance to arrive?

I know what would happen if the patient died – the Ambulance service would be blamed for taking too long to get to the patient, rather than look at the motives of a GP who is quite happy to leave a seriously ill patient alone.

I don't know how some people can sleep at night.

However there are a few GPs who stay on scene with their patient until we arrive – I always make a comment of thanking them for doing this. In return they seem surprised that the majority of GPs are happy to leave patients alone

18 thoughts on “Left At Home”

  1. at least that's *someone* with some medical training staying with the patient to try and provide a little reassurance.Occasionally members of the general public call an ambulance for me if I collapse. And invariably they stay with me until it arrives, or at least make sure someone else can stay with me. And they say things like “it's alright” or “you'll be fine” or “the ambulance is on its way, don't you worry” and “is there anyone you want me to call?”

    That's from people who aren't in “caring professions”, who didn't choose a career that involves looking after people. How can a trained and experienced GP manage to be *less* considerate and empathic?

  2. Both astonishing and appalling. Please tell me there is some agency to whom you can report such behavior? I mean, besides us?Also, welcome back; glad you survived.

  3. *seethe*That made me very angry, reading that.

    If a GP gets to the point where they no longer have any compassion like that they should just retire or something. Shocker.

  4. Well.. maybe because they are TOO used to it if you know what I mean.E.g. I was once on scene when a girl my age (about 20) had a really bad accident and I have to say: you feel pretty helpless.

    You say all those things (like “you'll be fine”, “everything's alright”, “the ambulance is on its way”, “is there anything I can do, shall I call someone?”) because you are NOT sure.

    You actually do NOT know what to do and whether she'll be fine or not. You do NOT know if the ambulance is on its way, if it will be there in time and you actually hope she'll say “no” when you offer her to call somebody.

    Sorry I only speak for myself but that was how I felt in that particular situation and the only thing I wanted was the bl**** ambulance to turn up in order to release me.

    Of course you don't really feel involved because it is not your mother, sister or your best friend but you DO care and you are not professional enough to block all the feelings etc.

    You want to do what is right or at least know what is right, what to do, that's all.

    Some GPs view is obstructed by what they think they know and have seen that's the problem. But they are not all like that they are just human.

    It's a lack of common sense caused by their opinion they are all knowing I suppose.

  5. At least you lot have GP's who will come out to the house… here in Merika, you're lucky if you can get your GP on the phone, and he/she'll just tell you to get to the emergency room (casualty ward).

  6. Oh, this is pretty much the norm really. I once went to a bloke who'd been seen by his GP, he diagnosed an acute aortic aneurysm and then promptly went back to his surgery – because, as he said when I phoned him up about it, the wating room was full of patients!Carl.

  7. in the midlands it is rare to see a GP at all. After 6:30pm all calls to a GP automatically go through to the ambulance service as our GP's no longer on call out of hours.

  8. Myself as well, MI's sitting outside the surgery have become a bit of a joke…I'm also used to the practice nurse giving me a handover, rather than the GP who actually saw the patient.

  9. The central point about the recent ambulance report to the government is that we have a shortage of GPs who are willing to cover nights, so it will now be up to us ambulance people to do that job (at a much reduced cost – of course).

  10. I'm not condoing, but some don't come into the profession with any real compassion. Add in the stress, the decline in prestige, the increase in costs, the pressure to keep up with every scientific advance, the likelihood of being sued, getting older, not getting enough sleep, some docs will just get so much fatigue they do dumb heartless things. Can't see past their own noses.Yes, they need to remain human. But the system needs to support that, or both patients and doctors will continue to fall through the cracks.

  11. Hi Reynolds, glad you had good trip. This was also seen on the very excellent Trauma currently on the beeb. A woman called up her GP for minor breathing problems, only to be told to call an ambulance. He (or she) didn't even bother to go out. The RRU driver looked livid.By the way, why aren't you on that? You publicity fiend you! You're probably going to have some excuse like 'it's not my area' – shame….

  12. Just wondering, I don't condone this behavior – but is it possible that the GP had lots of calls and had to get to the next one as soon as??? Or is that not very likely?They may have felt they had done all they could and little would be gained by staying and that if they left it might make all the difference to their next call out.

    Just a thought.

  13. Yes, I thought of that as well, but the time between call and me turning up was less than 8 minutes (yay me!), so the GP was in and out like a shot.Also, if the GP was too busy, then they are normally very quick to advise people to call for an ambulance.

    So, possible – but unlikely (even with my cynicism).

  14. Had to leave an old dear at home once as she point blank refused to be shifted despite her bubbling breathing being heard from the front door of the flat. Phoned GP who was due to come out 2 hours later to try and get them round earlier but they refused.Left the patient at home with a neighbour and told control.

    Saw our RRV bloke and a crew in resus later, absolutely livid. They had been sent to an address by a GP who told his receptionist that the patient had slumped in her chair and to call an ambulance. In the letter he left it stated she was having difficulty breathing and would A&E be so kind as to assess her.

    When RRV got there within 8 mins (yay) the patient was on the floor under a duvet, friend was asking if she was ok, GP had disappeared in a puff of smoke. Oh, and the patient was in cardiac arrest.

    Not all of them are that bad bit this obviously stuck with me.

  15. funny thing happened to me on the way to A&E,, The pt went into arrest (resp first then cardiac) with exactly the same situation not 3 weeks ago…!!

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