A very worrying case featured in the MailOnline today. The terribly tragic story of Chris Brogan who died of a heart attack 17 days after his dull chest pains were diagnosed over the phone by his GP as a chest infection.
Mrs Catryn Brogan, his widow, is clearly right to ask the question she has put to the Department of Health, which is “had he been seen by a doctor would his heart attack have been prevented?”
No one can predict this with any certainty and whilst there is a suitable time and place for telephone consultations, I don’t believe it’s use should become widespread for patients with undiagnosed and potentially serious health conditions.
I have dealt with a number of cases involving negligent care at the time of GP home visits. The level of care received at home visits must be considered to be higher than that of a telephone consultation so this development should be setting off alarm bells in terms of the effect on patient safety in primary care.
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