Archive for the ‘Personal Stories’ Category

Robbie Powell: 10 Year Old Dies, Doctors Lie to Parents

A long and painful story:

Robbie Powell died at the age of ten on the 17th April 1990 of a treatable condition called Addison’s disease which, unknown to his parents, had been suspected four months before his death, when he had been an inpatient at Morriston Hospital, Swansea. The ACTH test to confirm the diagnosis was ordered by the hospital consultant [Dr William Raymond Forbes] but not performed. Addison’s disease invariably results in death without treatment; however, if treated, the patient can live a full and normal life. The hospital informed Robbie’s GPs of the suspicion of Addison’s disease, by letter, and requested immediate referral if the child had a recurrence of, amongst other things, vomiting and/or abdominal pain.

Between the 2nd and 17th April Robbie was seen by five GPs from the local Health Centre on seven separate occasions [that is, on 2nd [Dr Elwyn Hughes], 6th [Dr Nicola Flower], 11th [Dr Mike Williams], 15th [Dr Paul Boladz], 16th [Dr Keith Hughes] and twice on the 17th [Dr Nicola Flower]. In the 2 weeks leading to Robert’s death he had been vomiting [a characteristic symptom of Addison’s disease which had led to his initial hospital admission], was so weak he couldn’t walk unassisted and had excessive weight loss, due to severe dehydration. On the day he died the child had dilated pupils and central cyanosis when he regained consciousness after fainting, while his mother assisted him to the toilet. In the light of these symptoms and the several earlier consultations a GP [Dr Nicola Flower] refused hospital admission on her first visit on the day of death. On her second visit she again refused hospital admission but eventually agreed to do so following a heated argument. However, the Powells’ request for an ambulance was refused. On arrival at the hospital, Mr Powell watched his youngest son take his last conscious breath. Robert was declared dead shortly afterwards.

There’s a great deal more to the story, which continues to be litigated to this day. Read the rest.

Lindsay McCreith Travels to US for Brain Cancer Surgery

An excellent short film produced by Stuart Browning:

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Here’s a related article from the Tornoto Star.

Dying Woman Denied Care for Paying for Cancer Drugs Outside the System

From the London Times, June 1, 2008:

A woman dying of cancer was denied free National Health Service treatment in her final months because she had paid privately for a drug to try to prolong her life.

Linda O’Boyle was told that as she had paid for private treatment she was banned from free NHS care.

She is believed to have been the first patient to die after fighting for the right to top up NHS treatment with a privately purchased cancer medicine that the health service refused to provide.

News of her death at the age of 64 has emerged as six other patients launch a legal action to trigger a test case that they hope would force the NHS to allow them to top up their care with private drugs.

Read the rest.

Woman “Too Young” for Cervical Smear Gets Cancer

From the Daily Mail, June 10, 2008:

One year ago Katie Hilliard was a typical 20-something  –  working in the City, going out with friends from university and generally just having fun.

But the 24-year-old now has cervical cancer and despite a hysterectomy, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, the disease has spread to her lymph nodes and lungs. Doctors have given Katie at best two years; at worst 11 months.

‘They have not been very positive about the future,’ she says simply.

What makes her story even more tragic is that cervical cancer, if detected early, is a preventable disease.

In fact, Katie had actually requested a smear test  –  used to detect the pre-cancerous cell changes linked to the disease  –  twice in the four years before her diagnosis. Yet each time she was refused, because she was ‘too young’.

Read the rest.

My Wife’s Month in the British Health Care System

From the Wall Street Journal, June 8, 2005:

When I covered Latin America for The Wall Street Journal, I’d visit hospitals, prisons and schools as barometers of public services in the country. Based on my Latin American scale, Queen’s Square would rate somewhere in the middle. It certainly wasn’t as bad as public hospitals in El Salvador, where patients often share beds. But it wasn’t as nice as some of the hospitals I’ve seen in Buenos Aires or southern Brazil. And compared with virtually any hospital ward in the U.S., Queen’s Square would fall short by a mile.The equipment wasn’t ancient, but it was often quite old. On occasion my wife and I would giggle at heart and blood-pressure monitors that were literally taped together and would come apart as they were being moved into place. The nurses and hospital technicians had become expert at jerry-rigging temporary fixes for a lot of the damaged equipment. I pitched in as best as I could with simple things, like fixing the wiring for the one TV in the ward. And I’d make frequent trips to the local pharmacies to buy extra tissues and cleaning wipes, which were always in short supply.

In fact, cleaning was my main occupation for the month we were at Queen’s Square. Infections in hospitals are, of course, a problem everywhere. But in Britain, hospital-borne infections are getting out of control. At least 100,000 British patients a year are hit by hospital-acquired infections, including the penicillin-resistant “superbug” MRSA. A new study carried out by the British Health Protection Agency says that MRSA plays a part in the deaths of up to 32,000 patients every year. But even at lower numbers, Britain has the worst MRSA infection rates in Europe. It’s not hard to see why.

Read the rest.