To the GP that thought she was doing the right thing 

First things first, I want to make it clear that I have no end of admiration for Nurses, Doctors, Gp’s, Midwives etc and the massive amounts of work they do. I’m not one to complain on a whim, but only where I feel there is a serious need for something to be addressed. 

A few months ago, you will remember I was basically accused of harming Vivienne after the GP spotted a teeny bruise on her thigh. 

A few days after this happened, I wrote a strongly worded (and entirely justified) complaint to the head of my GP surgery. Below, you will find that letter. 

Please note, names of medical professionals have been changed for the purpose of this post. 



Dear Practice Manager 

Further to my appointment with Dr Dahlia at 11.30/11.40 am on Thursday the 26th of January 2017, I wish to make a complaint in relation to Dr Dahlia’s  handling of my appointment, and her lack of training in relation to a sensitive matter which has left me feeling distraught. 

On the 26th January I arrived at the surgery with both of my children (Sebastien and Vivienne ) for a double appointment for a cough that both children have suffered with for over a week. Sebastien was checked over and his cough listed as “viral” – no concerns there. 

When it came to Vivienne’s assessment Dr Dahlia  listened to her chest and back, whilst listening to her back, Dr Dahlia noticed a small rash on the upper quadrant of Vivienne’s back, and although the appearance of the rash was nothing of concern, I agreed that it would be pertinent to check for further rashes. It was as Vivienne was undressed that I made Dr Dahlia aware of a tiny (less than 2mm) bruise on Vivienne’s right thigh. After finishing the assessment of Vivienne’s cough, Dr  Dahlia advised that she wanted to refer to a colleague in relation to the bruise, as it may warrant a paediatric referral, but she wanted to check if the guidelines stated 6 months or 12 months (Vivienne is 44 weeks of age) 

It was upon her return to the consulting room that Dr Dahlia’s demeanour changed, and she told me that I would need to take Vivienne the hospital “as the guidelines state 12 months” I have checked the guidelines, and they do not mention age, they refer to NIM (non independently mobile- le not crawling, bum shuffling etc) babies but do not state an age limit. 

http://www.portsmouthccg.nhs.uk/Services/Bruising%20Protocol%20final%20version%20Jan%202016.pdf

Now at this point I feel it is important to reiterate that my complaint is not in relation to the above guidelines, but in relation to Dr Dahlia’s lack of training and understanding regarding these guidelines and her inability to address patients in a respectful and non demeaning tone during what can be a delicate and emotive time. 

I was not immediately aware of the significance of the referral to paediatrics, and advised that my husband was away in Germany (armed forces personnel) and that I had friends at home for a play date with the children, so that it wasn’t particularly convenient, but as my husband would be home at the weekend, I could pop up to the hospital with Vivienne upon his return. This is when Dr Dahlia advised that if I did not present Vivienne to the hospital that same day that she would be making an immediate call to child services. I was quite taken aback, and asked if she had any concerns about the bruise. She answered no. I asked if I should have any concerns in relation to the bruise- again, her answer was no. I asked if she could therefore please explain the reasons for the referral to paediatrics and she just stated that it’s because of Vivienne’s age and that the bruise was “unexplained” 

I had already told Her that Vivienne is an active child (cruising and crawling) and tries to keep up with her (very active) 2 year old brother. 

When I realised her assumptions were in relation to child protection, I became very upset, and I did at this point raise my voice. I asked that she give me a moment to arrange childcare for Sebastien, and whilst messaging my friend, Dr Dahlia proceeded to make a telephone call. 

It took a few moments for my friends to reply saying whether they could have Sebastien for me, and whilst waiting for them to reply, Dr Dahlia told me to “make a decision as she can’t keep the registrar on the phone all day” I asked her again to wait a moment, and again she reiterated that the appointment must be that same day, and I needed to accept an appointment time immediately. I was very flustered and accepted a time of 2pm. 

I left the GP feeling extremely upset and somewhat vilified. This made worse by another member of staff stood behind the consulting room door when I opened it to leave. (As though she was listening through the door- I expect the reasons for her presence to be explained in full) 

I believe that if Dr Dahlia understood (and implemented) both the NICe and the NHS guidelines correctly, and had employed a little common sense or asked a more experienced colleague for a second assessment/opinion as stated in the NICE guidelines (point 1.2; https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg89/evidence/full-guideline-243694621 ) that the upset and distress caused could have been avoided for both myself and Vivienne. Let it also be noted that the consultant that attended to Vivienne has hinted at Dr Dahlia’s misuse/misunderstanding of the guidelines in her follow up letter.

It must also be noted that Dr Dahlia did not provide me with an information leaflet (please see section 4.3 of the first guide) 

The way in which Dr Dahlia handled the appointment has consumed me these past few days, and ruined what should have been a happy time with the return of my husband from Germany. I have spent every waking hour fretting about my children, scared to let them play as a child should. I would hesitate to seek future guidance from Dr Dahlia for both myself and Sebastien and Vivienne, as I unfortunately feel I could not trust Dr Dahlia’s judgement. Be it towards my care or her medical ability. 

I suggest that at the very least, Dr Dahlia undertakes training on the new Children’s act, and look forward to a full and detailed apology from both herself and the practice. 

In anticipation of your reply. 

Kindest regards 

Zoe <sn> 


It took way over the 10 days stated in the practice complaints procedures for the practice manager to reply, and this was not without (a lot) of prompting and chasing from myself. 

When I finally did receive a reply from the practice, I was happy that they took my complaint seriously.

 They (the practice) advised me that they have classed Dr Dahlia’s handling of my appointment as a Major Incident and informed me that the entire practice staff were to undergo training in the new children’s act, and on Baby bruising protocols. 
I still feel very sad that this had to happen, and a part of me feels sorry for Dr Dahlia- as far as she was concerned at the time, she was acting in Vivienne’s best interests. 

I hope however, that no Parent has to go through the rigmarole that I went through, because it was painful, discouraging and embarrassing. 

Until I received the reply from the GP surgery, I felt I had a question mark over my ability to parent. I felt like I was being judged, and didn’t dare return to the GP practice until my complaint was resolved. I’m normally a self assured (arrogant!) individual, but this nearly broke me. 

Just imagine if this happened to a Parent that was already on the edge?! 

Zx 

Twin Mummy and Daddy
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46 thoughts on “To the GP that thought she was doing the right thing 

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  1. I think you did very well under the circumstances. It shouldn’t have happened though and to be honest I’m shocked that the GP make such assumptions. Excellent letter by the way! Thanks so much for sharing with #Blogstravaganza xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahh thank you! I’m quite proud of the letter too! Sorry I had to write it, but reading it back, I’m impressed with myself (mainly because I managed not to name call/make it too personal! ) X

      Like

  2. This sounds truly awful. I do agree that GPs are often a baby’s only line of defence in abuse cases and GPs absolutely should follow up on anything they feel is out of place, however, there are ways of doing so and making threats and being rude isn’t the way at all.
    I’m glad that you followed up on this and that the staff there are going to be retrained because it sounds like they really need it.
    Just out of curiosity, did you ever find out who was listening at the door and why?
    Thanks for linking up to #AnythingGoes 🙂
    Debbie

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I did! They didn’t include it in the original apology, so I called the practice and pushed until o had answers. It was the GP that my GP referred to. She is also being retrained thankfully.

      The way the GP spoke to me was crushing.

      It was only by publishing a blog on the day it happened that I was given the courage to complain. I’m so thankful for the blogging community! X

      Like

  3. Hi there Lycawidow

    Something that perplexes me about this process is why this professional handled the situation in such a manner. If an unexplained bruise is noted and there is a protocol to be followed really there are two situations: 1. it’s an entirely innocent concern that simply has to be followed up due to protocol (in which case it should be explained as such with respect) OR 2. it’s a situation in which the professional is genuinely concerned about abuse/neglect and should be handling the situation with absolute care for the child in question.

    My point being either its an innocent situation and the professional should be polite, or its a volatile situation and the professional should be polite, there isn’t a middle ground of it’s OK for a pro to be somewhat rude and pushy and threatening because of a protocol but the concern is relatively minor anyway?

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  4. Shocking story, well done for stickiing to your guns. Me and the kids are all covered in bruises. Zach is learning to walk and crashes to the floor regularly. Matthew and Anya are learning to ride bikes. I have a bruise over 7 cm across on my leg and no memory of how I got it. Common sense is essential #anythinggoes

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I got a leg wax today, and the beautician asked how I have so many bruises on my legs. I have no idea either. Haphazard of being a mum I guess! The kids are forever playing like kids and getting all the. Imps and scrapes that goes with free play!

      Common sense would have been most helpful wouldn’t it. I honestly think the GP panicked, hence it being such a car crash. X

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  5. What an awful situation to go through.Your letter is outstanding. Concise and clear, without ranting. Good for you for saying something and making the complaint, as many wouldn’t.

    #anythinggoes

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  6. This must have been very stressful. Its such a shame that because of a despicable teeny tiny minority these things can happen to even the very best of us, and of course, when handled poorly it is quite unfair. I am sure the GP involved has reflected and learnt from it, and it sounds like the whole practice has also done so. Some good has come from it. Kate x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Kate! Yes. The silver lining indeed is that hopefully they will all learn from this. It was one of the single most stressful experiences since becoming a parent (baring in mind our eldest has stopped breathing and required an ambulance 3 times!)

      I felt Vilified at the time. I can’t imagine what the outcome would have been if this had happened to someone who didn’t have the strength to question it.

      Thank you for reading. 🙂 x

      Like

  7. Well done you. I think you handled the situation well. The fact that the practice is now going to retrain staff is fantastic. What a horrible situation for a parent to find themselves in.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahh thank you. I think I was working on adrenaline on the day. It’s such a relief to know that the staff are being retrained. Hopefully no other parent will go through that! Thank you for popping by x

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  8. Simply put I would have lost my shit completely. Screaming sobbing ugly mess. I can not imagine! There is not a day that goes by where one of my kids hasnt barreled into something and put another mark on their tiny little bodies! This makes me want to call me Pediatrician and tell her that I love her.

    #anythinggoes

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I lost my shit. Full on ugly crying as soon as I got home, and lots of hugging my children. I also may have said “what the fuck” at some point in the GP’s office.
      Thank you for popping over! X

      Like

    1. It really could have Emily! Such an awful week. Thanks k you for having me on #ThatfridayLinky I’m only a sporadic blogger, but hopefully will link up with you again soon x

      Like

  9. Oh goodness what a palava. I would have felt awful! You handled it very well though and I’m glad that they took it serious enough to train the whole practise, hopefully another family won’t have to go through this!
    I hope the little ones are better with their coughs too. Becky xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Funny story. (Not) our eldest still has his cough, and now they’re querying asthma, or whooping cough so we have a new inhaler… I wasn’t particularly cool headed when it happened. That’s for sure!

      I agree. I hope me going through this means another family doesn’t. Thank you for popping by x

      Like

  10. I have experienced similar as you with gp s nowadays I will not take any crap when it comes to girls we are both quite forceful it’s a shame you have to be like that. Sorry to hear of the appalling way you were treated Thanks for linking to the #THAT FRIDAY LINKY come back next week please

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It has definitely made me even more on the defensive, so many people have recounted similar experiences since I published this. It’s scary that gp’s can get it so wrong. Thank you for having me on #ThatFridayLinky!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Oh my goodness, bless you. I work in a GP practice and I feel this was handled in such an unprofessional manner, I’m pleased they took it seriously. Big hugs, popping over from #ThatFridayLinky

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Cases like this worry me because you can see how vulnerable parents, such as those struggling with mental health issues, would be cautious about taking their child to the doctor or nurse. Absolutely concerns should be raised, and I think most parents would understand the need for all cases to be dealt with the same, but to do so in the way this GP did – with no tact or balance – is not going to help anyone in the long run. You did the right thing by raising a complaint, and I’m glad the practice is taking it seriously.
    #ThatFridayLinky

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly Sadie. As a self assured mother I still felt like I was doing something wrong, almost as if I was worthless and my children would be better without me. I haven’t taken her to the GP since, barring for her routine immunisations.

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  13. I can’t believe you had to go through that, it just shows that GP’s really need training in dealing with this kind of thing. That you for highlighting that. I’m glad that they took your complaint seriously and are addressing it x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was such a relief when they admitted it had been entirely mishandled, and that training would be given to all staff. It’s definitely one of those areas that’s super important. Gp’s are the voice for those that don’t have a voice, and as such need to know how to protect a child at risk.

      On the dark side of this story, if I was abusing Vivienne, then because of how mishandled the referral was, then they wouldn’t be able to do anything. That scares me too. The fact that a GP could actually put a child at greater risk. Thank you for reading x

      Like

  14. Oh my goodness how scary. I understand how gps have to act but a few minutes to explain that ALL bruising that is unexplained must be referred and that the consultants are experts and will help you find the cause. I do understand that it has to be the same day too(imagine a baby being left with abusers until they take it to the hospital) but surely some kindness and empathy would go a long way to ease your fears. I am so glad it worked out ok in the end for you both xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly! I have no problem with the process to protect children, in fact I applaud it! But I do have a problem with an inexperienced GP misinterpreting the protocols and making me feel like she did!

      Like

  15. This scared me a little bit!
    Naturally GPs have to be on the lookout for signs of abuse but this struck me as way over the top.
    That scenario could easily happen to any parent taking their child to the doctor (When aren’t children sporting some form of bruise??)
    It seems to me you handled the situation very well though.
    Not so sure I’d react with the same composure.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I definitely wasn’t composed when it happened! In fact I was quite. Angry, (but I was also honest about being angry!) I still think about it some days and it makes me terribly sad.

      Like

  16. “In accidental bruising, the most
    common sites are the bony prominences on the front of the body such as the knees, shins, and
    sometimes the forehead. The eye area is usually protected from accidental bruising”

    Taken from the NICE guidelines you’ve posted in your post.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Sounds like your case was handled insensitively, which is really very sad.

    Complaints like this are making GPs leave the profession in their droves. We’re taught by Child Safeguarding experts that bruising on non bony prominences is a “red flag” and should be immediately referred to child safeguarding. In your case it sounds like you were referred to the paediatric team? So not referred as a child safeguarding per se, but for further assessment and management (many things can cause bruising).

    Paediatric consultants receive different training from GPs and they often misunderstand how unsafe it is for GPs to simply discharge patients when there may be ANY doubt that there is a child safeguarding issue at hand.

    When GPs miss things like this and it turns out to be a case of child abuse then GPs can get struck off of the medical register.

    Not trying to defend the doctor or say that you didn’t have a horrid experience, but just wanted to shed some light on the thought process behind why your GP did what he/she did.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Rakeeb, thank you for taking the time to comment, I absolutely agree with what you say above, and I understand how worrying it must be as a GP to see a baby that you believe may be at risk, or to feel that a you haven’t noticed an at risk Baby. I absolutely agree with better to be safe than sorry,

      As I stated in my letter. It isn’t the referral that I was complaining about per se, but the way in which the referral was mishandled.

      I was referred to pediatrics on the grounds of child safeguarding, (I read the letter the gp gave me to hand to the paediatrician) and it was only upon researching how cases of baby bruising should be handled, that I realised how mishandled my case was. I also spoke at length with a child protection officer, before deciding that a complaint was warranted in this case. X

      Like

      1. Hi, thanks for the reply. Just saying that as a rule of thumb, as a GP it’s best practice to just get the baby seen if you have any concerns, particularly with non-bony prominence bruising. It’s indefensible in court if it turns out to be a safeguarding issue. Having worked in paediatrics you won’t believe what turns out to be a safeguarding case and what doesn’t.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I can only imagine some of the cases that are seen. (A very close friend of mine is a paediatric nurse)

        I do think my main gripe was that as child protection is so important, I would expect my GP to know how to handle a referral correctly. But then again they are expected to know SO much.

        Like

  18. I remember this happening and how upset you were.What an awful thing to go through but you’ve been very adult (not sure I could) about it and at least you making your voice heard has had a good effect.We’re all human and make mistakes but admitting to them and learning from them is another thing x

    Liked by 1 person

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