Doctor Shortages in the NHS force some Hospitals to adopt Banker Hours when treating Stroke Patients

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 14th, 2013

Week in Review

We hear it all the time how to recognize the early symptoms of a stroke.  Here.  And in the UK.  The sudden headache.  The numbness in an arm or a leg.  The slurred speech.  For if we identified these symptoms early enough we can get to the hospital in time to prevent a massive stroke.  As long as we get there during banker hours (see Mother, 30, suffered massive stroke after being ‘sent home from hospital because a specialist was unavailable’ by Liz Hull posted 4/13/2013 on the Daily Mail).

A young mother suffered a massive stroke after she was wrongly sent home from hospital because there were no specialists on duty over the weekend to assess a brain scan.

Ruth Stanton was aged just 30 when she was admitted to hospital after suffering two mini-strokes over 48 hours.

Doctors carried out two brain scans, but failed to give her a diagnosis because it was a Friday evening and the specialist neurologist was not on site…

Because it was a Friday evening the specialist wasn’t available and, although the scans showed signs of abnormality, medics made the decision to discharge Mrs Stanton, who was told to wait for an out patient’s appointment, instead.

She returned home and went to bed but suffered the stroke in the middle of the night.

A medical expert provided evidence to the couple’s solicitor that prescribing a simple dose of aspirin for Mrs Stanton, now 36, would have prevented it occurring.

We can learn the early warning signs of a stroke but the on-call doctors and nurses in a NHS hospital can’t?  This after she suffered two mini-stokes over a 48-hour period that were in her medical records?  And there were signs of abnormality in two brain scans?  What does it take for someone to call in a specialist?  A flashing neon sign over a patient’s head saying “I’m a having a stroke.  Please call in a specialist.  Help.”  Apparently so.  For they will discharge you on a Friday afternoon and ask you to come back during office hours on Monday otherwise.

There’s a running gag in American television about a busy doctor telling a patient to “take two aspirins and call me in the morning.”  So they don’t have to cancel their evening plans by staying late to see a patient.  Apparently they didn’t give this woman anything.  And asked her to come back sometime after the weekend.  As an outpatient.  Despite having had 2 mini-strokes.  And signs of abnormality in her brain scans.  Is this what we have to look forward to under Obamacare?  Health care resources so stretched that they can’t be bothered to call in a specialist.  Or give a woman about to have a massive stroke a couple of aspirins?

It may very well be.  For Obamacare will take us in the direction of the NHS.  A more top-down managed health care system trying to take care of an aging population.  Where the only way to cut costs will be to force health care providers to work for less.  Leading to the kind of doctor shortages where they ask a patient to come back after the weekend during banking hours when someone will be available to see them.  If they don’t die or suffer a debilitating stroke over the weekend.

Moving in the direction of the NHS may provide health care to more people.  But the quality of that health care will fall so much that there may be more deaths in the long run from substandard care.  More of that fair-share sacrifice President Obama is always talking about.  If people are dying because they don’t have health insurance than some of those who have it need to die, too.  To make things more fair.  Apparently.

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