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Post 22 The unsung heroes of the health service

When patients are grateful for the care they receive, be it in hospital, in the GP's surgery or at home, they often express their gratitude and leave small gifts for the doctors and nurses.     The doctors are 'marvellous' the nurses 'angels'.So they may be and such recognition can be great motivating factors. But what of all the other  equally vital members of the team; the paramedics, porters, cooks, cleaners, managers, records and maintenance staff  without whom the frontline staff couldn't operate? Their contribution is just as essential but all too often is overlooked.  I hope this story helps to redress the balance.
 I make no apology for presenting it exactly as it came to me. I believe that to do otherwise would result in a loss of its warmth and spontaneity.                                                                         ----------------------------------------------------------

Today an angel knocked on my hospital door.. his name was john 💎

T…

Post 21 Legal problems after vasectomy - and a late reprieve!

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Don's heart sank when he saw the letter sitting on his desk. The envelope was of high quality, it bore a first class stamp and had a London postmark. In his experience such letters rarely brought good news.  With great reluctance he opened the envelope.   The note paper was thick and expensive, certainly not the sort used in the health service!   He read the address on the top of the page. It caused a shiver to pass down his back.
Williams, Cummings and Lane. solicitors
25 Chancery Lane
London
Along the bottom of the page was a tag line in smaller type
Specialists in medical negligence
With an increasing sense of foreboding Don read the letter Dear Mr Fraser Re Frederick Makin We write to inform you that we act on behalf of the above named client upon whom you undertook a vasectomy operation. This operation was undertaken in a negligent fashion as a result of which Mr Makin has fathered a child. Further details will be forwarded to you in due course. It is expected that the damages will…

Post 20 A Nurse's 'Very Special' Patient.

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As a part of my paediatric nursing training in 1963 at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, I was required to undertake a ‘patient study’.  It involved studying the care of an individual patient in detail.  I chose a particularly ill baby called ‘James’ (not his real name) who had a severe chest infection.   He was just twelve months old.   He had a collection of pus both within his lung and in the cavity around the lung, a life threatening condition known as an empyema.

His father was a major in the army, so he was flown to London from Germany, where his father was stationed, leaving his mother and three sisters behind.   Because he was separated from his mother, all the nurses on the ward gave him a little extra attention.   I certainly did!   In all he spent 6 weeks with us and in that time I got to know him especially well.   He was treated with antibiotics, spending much of the time being nursed in an oxygen tent.   He also went to the operating theatre to have the collections …

Post 19 My Most Memorable Medical Moment

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Jimmy was 28 years old when I first met him.He was good looking, 5 feet 10 inches tall, slightly built, a keen football fan but also a violent criminal with severe mental health problems.Arrested, tried and found guilty of causing grievous bodily harm, he received a custodial sentence. Later he was referred to a secure mental health unit to avoid risk to the public while attempts were made to treat his aggressive behaviour.I was tasked with working with him and during one of our sessions I asked what he would most like to do? His reply surprised me. “Run a marathon,” he said.

“Yes, that’s possible,” I replied, “but I would have to come with you while you trained.” Jimmy was really excited that his dream was possible.

I suggested that instead of a marathon, a local 10 kilometre run would be an acceptable first step. Jimmy agreed and soon training started in earnest. It was hoped that sport and exercise would enable him to channel his aggression in a positive way,

His enthusiasm to run a …

Post 18 A pregnant pig helps me make a stunning diagnosis!

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One definition of serendipity is ‘Looking for a needle in a haystack and finding the farmer’s daughter’.   Perhaps that’s a bit ‘Non PC’ these days, a bit sexist but no matter!    For me, serendipity was having a pregnant pig help me make a stunning diagnosis – let me tell you more.....

Ihad taken the written papers and my bedside competence in matters medical had been assessed by an evil physician, who had derived great pleasure from laying bare the paucity of my knowledge(described in Post 10).The final part of the examination to determine whether I was fit to become a doctor was a test of my knowledge of surgical matters.

My examiner was Sir William Warrender, the most senior surgeon at the City General Hospital, for whom I had a great deal of respect. I had undertaken part of my training on his 'firm' and found him to be a ‘fatherly figure of the old school’.He was patient with students, a good teacher with the wisdom of long experience; I had every confidence that his asses…