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Lack of gp action has caused a death...


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On Sunday afternoon, a very good friend lost his wife. (I only knew her slightly, so am upset for my friend and his children).

 

She was 27, and they have 8 children from 13 down to one year.

 

She felt ill in August 2013, with swollen neck glands and extremely sore throat. The GP told her she had a throat infection and would be fine in a week. No anti-biotics. In September she went back as she was worse. Told the same. She then had a period of feeling slightly better. Come November, bad again, back to the GP, still no help. She got through Xmas somehow, seemed to pick up slightly again, although this was probably the whole Xmas thing with the children that cheered her. Bad again, and now whole head swelling up, so hubbie took her straight to hospital. Diagnosed with cancer (not sure but believed to be a Hodgekins type thing in the lymph nodes?) and given a week to live. End of story, charming. Children had to be told last night and I'm sure you can imagine that.

 

Now, I know the poor man is in complete shock, disbelief and disarray and that right this minute is not the time to be thinking about legal action, and this I have told him. But, when he is on some sort of keel again (I doubt if it will ever be an even one again) he wishes to pursue this if for no other reason than discovering what the hell went wrong here.

 

So, can anyone point me in the direction of anything I can read up about on this sort of thing, where to get medical records, info etc, so that when the question arises in the future, I can point him in the right direction? Or even, just where does one start?

 

Many thanks to you all.

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This is a terrible tragedy indeed, Jackie..

 

Is there to be a coroners inquest?

 

You should be able to obtain all the medical records by way of a Subject Access Request I think. I will check with others on the site team though.

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I know, its a shocker. Almost like poor Jade Goody all over again, but with more heart broken young children involved.

 

Well, I don't know anything about an inquest, and truth be told poor man is not the brightest button in the jar and obviously is all over the place right now. But he is in contact with us constantly, so I can find all this out as we go along. All I intend to do is gather relevant information etc for him, and keep it safe until he feels better able to deal with this and when that time comes I shall be finding a good solicitor for him, as this is way beyond anything I could deal with. At least he will have all the info he needs and he can see the sense in this.

 

I shall now go and look up "Coroner's Inquest" and acquaint myself with the facts.

 

Thank you CB.

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Hopefully the link silverfox posted is clear. You need to make a request under the Access to Health Records Act 1990, not a subject access request under the Data Protection Act.

 

I have some personal experience of this trying to request a family member's medical docs from a hospital's medical records team after a botched operation. They sent us the form under the Access to Health Records Act 1990, insisting this was the right once, and I ended up in the very weird position of trying to explain that it was not the right form since the family member was alive and kicking. There may be some administrative incompetence to deal with so I suggest getting in touch by phone first before sending the formal written request. The hospital and/or the GP area team will often have a specific form they want you to fill in.

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That is so sad. That poor man and all those poor children. They must all be devastated.

 

If it was Hodgkins then that has a pretty good survival rate in young people, so her lack of treatment may well have resulted in her premature death.

 

When he is feeling up to it your friend should get the records and consult a good Personal Injury Lawyer. You need one of the really established experts for this.

 

27 and given a week to live. That is just beyond belief.

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Oh I know, its almost beyond belief. I'm not so good at mopping up tears, and I wouldn't know one end of a baby from the other, but at least I can be here and be able to answer questions about what he needs to do next.

 

I'm not saying anymore about it to him until everything is done and dusted, because right now he has to get through a funeral and get his money sorted (benefits all in her name) and harness the family back together (children have been farmed out everywhere for over a week). When that is done and he is up and running as best he can, then we can look at the next step.

 

Fours years ago I helped him beat social services off his back with a ****ty stick, so I know he will go through with this however difficult. And I shall start looking for the best solicitor for him.

 

Thanks for all the help, and if anyone has anything to throw into the mix please do - every bit helps! Oh and by the way two boys and 1 girl are ADHD!

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Poor, poor guy. My heart goes out to him.

 

A friend of mine lost his wife because of medical negligence almost 10 years ago, two days after she had given birth. It did settle, but it was a long hard fight. Eight children to look after must be very daunting especially as they will be grieving for their mum too. I hope the benefits people will show some compassion and sort things out quickly for him.

 

As you say though, the main thing is to be there for the funeral and the days ahead.

 

DD

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  • 2 weeks later...

Your friend has a number of options open to him but this must be an especially difficult time so he needn't do anything in a hurry. He has up to 12 months to lodge a complaint with his wife’s GP practice and perhaps longer still to look at legal redress.

 

As others have suggested, getting copies of medical records can be one route to explore. However, I’d recommend that he complains directly to the GP practice.

 

Why? They’ll review all the records leading up to his wife’s diagnosis and untimely death. They’ll attempt to provide explanations of the reasoning behind choosing certain tests / treatments and explain what’s written in the records. It doesn't affect you later seeking legal advice / redress if that’s what he chooses to do and it will give the GP’s an opportunity to review their own practices in such cases and learn from it all.

 

Like I said in another post, there are very strict rules and regulations that control and guide our actions when dealing with a complaint as well as the direction to provide information about how to take matters further in the event that our explanation is unsatisfactory.

 

Would a GP immediately consider the worse-case scenario when exploring the many reasons as to why an otherwise well, young person gets a persistent sore throat such as your friend’s wife experienced?

 

As little comfort as it might provide, I'm not sure they would and for something to affect his wife so quickly it’s impossible to suggest whether or not it was too late for any treatment to take any effect on her condition even if it were diagnosed in the Summer. But, perhaps taking the chance to discuss this with her GP might at least go some way to helping.

 

I’ve recently seen patients who were otherwise well, strong individuals succumb to aggressive cancers in a matter of months. It’s sobering and upsetting for us in the practice so I can only begin to appreciate the effect on the person and their family.

 

I see from your profile that you’ve set Dorset as the location, in the hope that your friend is local to you I’ve added a link to their patient leaflet that shows how to access their complaints procedure.

 

http://www.dorsethealthcare.nhs.uk/WS-Dorset-HealthCare/Downloads/Your%20Feedback/Improving%20Service%20users%20and%20carer%20experience.pdf

 

I'm sorry for your friends loss.

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