Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Health advice in action

My last post brought a flurry of agreement and anecdotes from health care colleagues, mainly by email. Some of these stories did show a certain lack of understanding on the part of other health professionals.....but as my DCS says " They probably pretend to be stupid and unhelpful to stop me coming back and asking for more help that will be difficult to provide."

I shall now share my favorite tale, with no names because if anyone reads the blog this came from it will be clear who they are talking about, perhaps too clear, and we have to maintain professional standards in front of our clients. (At least until they can't hear us laugh/scream/cry/ swear in the tea room.)

The patient attended her doctor and was told she had temporal arteritis, she didn't know what this was. In lieu of asking she went for an in depth consult with an elderly friend over a cup of tea and a biscuit. The elderly friend told her the doctor had probably meant temporary arthritis. (He probably hadn't.) This conversation was carried out at a very loud volume, both ladies are deaf. The neighbours could probably hear the conversation, and it would not have surprised me if some-one in the street had shouted some helpful advice through the window on their way past. ( Which if you read the previous post you now know both ladies would have had to follow.)

The doctor had prescribed massive doses of steroids for the patient (correct), which the pharmacist had explained had to be taken in a reducing course. This sounded difficult. The tablets also had to be taken in the morning, all ten of them, to her and her friend this sounded wrong as well.

Between them they worked out,

1. Doctor had meant to say temporary arthritis.
2. Doctor had written the wrong dose on the prescription, they knew steroids worked for arthritis, but Betsy-down-the-road takes a smaller dose every day so she'll take that dose.... he must have meant one a day for ten days not ten a day...that young girl down the chemists was clearly an idiot.
3. The doctor had not prescribed any pain killers, which was clearly wrong. The friend gave her some of her pain-killers until the patient could see the doctor and "put him right" about his mistake.
4. The friend agreed to ring her daughter and ask her to ask her friend (who once did a one day course in aromatherapy), what she would suggest for temporary arthritis.
5. They agreed not to tell their other friends, especially Betsy-down-the road, that the arthritis was temporary as that doesn't sound serious enough. Rather she would tell Betsy-down-the-road that she had been prescribed the massive dose of steroids because her arthritis was worse than Betsy's, but she would take the smaller dose.

This tale was received as a tale about the terrible service that the doctor and pharmacist gave her. Her temporary arthritis has proved to be anything but temporary and the pills the doctor gave her are not working.

Because the steroids kept her awake (she took them at night as she has too many other pills to take in the morning) she stopped taking them. She admits she didn't take the number the doctor and pharmacist told her to, because they were wrong. Yes, they did make her head-aches a little better, but they kept her awake and might make her fat. She is still taking her friend's pain-killers, but they aren't working, she'll stick with them because they worked for her friend. She won't go back to the doctor because he is an idiot and the chemist should have spotted that. She will not be going back to either, but is telling EVERYONE how bad they were.

(Quick summary: She's taking drugs she wasn't prescribed for a condition she hasn't got, they're not working, and it's the doctor's fault.)

On a brighter note the patient is getting some stuff off the Internet that worked for Betsy-down-the-road's cousin's chest, it's coming all the way from China so it must be good. She got her brothers grand-daughter's boyfriend to order it from the name she wrote down when Betsy told her it over the phone. It's called "Vigara", no definitely "Vigara", she wrote it down when Betsy told her. (You got me, I added the drug name, but the rest is true.)


Journeyer said...

Classic! My haemo once asked me if I was taking my leukaemia meds. I thought it was an odd question, of course I was taking them. Why on earth wouldn't I take them. Now I understand why he asked!

slh35661 said...

This is my mother-in-law!!! She is exactly like this, no joke.

Anonymous said...

And you wonder why doctors have a tendency to sound patronising? Maybe it is because most people are stupid!

(Not us, of course).

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