Brentwood couple slams GP telephone consult after severe misdiagnosis which could have proved fatal

Sunday, July 19, started like any other day for Peter King.

However, within minutes the 62-year-old former black cab driver from Brentwood was being violently sick, gasping for air and was white as a ghost.

“It’s my stomach,” he cried. Help me.”

His wife Lisa, 54, called an ambulance.

Within half an hour of arriving at Queen’s Hospital in Romford he was moved to a surgical assessment unit, where he was told by a consultant that they believed it was a problem with his gallbladder, and that he needed a CT scan.

It turned out he needed urgent medical attention after a rancid gall stone had become lodged in his bile duct and his gall bladder had become badly infected and inflamed.

He had an operation on Wednesday, with the pain numbed with intravenous morphine.

But Lisa said it all could have been avoided if doctors had allowed a one-to-one consultation, that had been restricted due to Covid-19.

Instead, on the previous Monday he had a telephone consultation with a GP at Deal Tree health centre in Blackmore.

He had told the GP about his symptoms and was told to take paracetamol for the pain and prescribed a gastro-resistant tablet as the doctor believed he had a digestive problem.

The turning down of a request for a face to face consultation could have cost Peter his life, said Lisa.

“What Peter got was a GP – not the GP I sent the email to – telephone consultation, not even in the surgery, as the GP did not have access to his medical notes,” she added.

“This I find very worrying as without a medical history a GP could prescribe a medication that could react with patients’ other medication and that could be fatal.

“They are part of the NHS, why are they not opening? It’s not right. Someone will die.

“Had he had a face to face as I had asked them to, he would not have had to go to A&E in an ambulance.

“He was very close to his gallbladder rupturing and then he could have easily died.

“Sepsis sets in and once that happens it’s very serious. That’s how close he was.”

This is not the first time that Lisa and Peter have been unhappy with the treatment at Deal Tree.

Lisa said that Peter was at one point contemplating suicide, claiming that doctors overlooked a treatable genetic condition for six years.

While they thought he had ME after being seen in 2012, he in fact had a genetic disease called haemochromatosis, which causes the patient to absorb too much iron from their diet. If the iron level is ignored it can cause disease of the liver and heart.

Lisa said Peter could have been treated easily had his condition been diagnosed earlier.

She said: “This is the second time, and as Peter said, is it going to be third time unlucky?”

Dr Ken Wrixon, GP at Deal Tree Health Centre, said: “We hope Mr. King makes a speedy recovery, and would encourage him or his wife to get in touch with us so that we can look into this further.”

“While face-to-face appointments are available at the practice, to help keep people safe we’re offering telephone appointments with our GPs in the first instance, but encourage patients to get back in touch if they feel their condition has got worse so we can reassess whether their care needs have changed.”

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter