Our family doctor was awesome — Dr. Wilken. We were 5 siblings and Dr. Wilken knew each of our medical histories like we were his own children. He listened to our concerns, made it clear when he thought we were just “playing for sympathy”, took the time to explain a potential medical issue and acted promptly when necessary.
Until this day, I judge every doctor I see on the standard of treatment I received from Dr. Wilken.
However, after reading three recent newspaper articles, it looks like Dr. Wilken has raised the bar a bit too high for some of his peers.
Malice and negligence
“Dad-of-two dies after doctors forgot to tell him he had deadly tumour”… “Woman left unable to breastfeed by surgeon’s unnecessary operations”… “Girl, 5, dies hours after doctor refused to see her because she was ‘four minutes late to emergency appointment'”.
These are the three headlines I’m talking about…
In the first, a dad-of-two died after doctors forgot to tell him he had a deadly tumour for three years.
Wayne Evans was suffering from severe stomach cramps when he was sent for tests. After hearing nothing back from his doctor, he assumed his results were normal.
However, three years later, Wayne’s health began to deteriorate rapidly and after visiting his doctor again, he was told only then that a mass had been discovered on his previous scan (three years before) and that he needed urgent care.
Unfortunately it was too late. The tumour was inoperable and the 41-year-old passed away shortly afterwards.
In the second incident, surgeon Ian Paterson exaggerated or simply “invented” the risk of cancer and carried out completely unnecessary operations to earn extra money.
Paterson is standing trial on 20 counts of deliberately wounding and causing grievous bodily harm to 10 of his patients… one of which will never be able to breastfeed and another who had a double mastectomy after being told he was “on the road to cancer” despite no evidence of malignancy.
As the state’s prosecutor Julian Christopher QC put it: “These were operations which no reasonable surgeon at the time would have considered justified, nor are we dealing with simple mistakes or incompetence.”
He added: “As a result, those patients and their families lived for many years with the belief that they could be very ill and underwent extensive, life-changing operations for no justifiable reason. Some have consequently developed quite serious mental health problems.”
But the last news article takes the cake: A five-year-old girl, Ellie-May Clark, died just hours after her doctor refused to see her because she was a few minutes late for an emergency appointment, after she suffered an asthma attack at school.
Ellie-May’s mother Shanice says they were four minutes late for the appointment, at which point Dr Rowe told the receptionist, ‘No I’m not seeing her, she’s late’, despite being aware of Ellie-May’s condition.
At 10.35pm, Shanice discovered Ellie-May having an asthma attack and found her not breathing. She was rushed to hospital but died shortly after.
A confidential NHS report revealed Dr Rowe’s handling of the incident and showed that the ‘root cause’ of the girl’s death was the doctor’s refusal to see her. Yet, Dr Rowe continues to practice after only being suspended on full pay for a short six months and receiving a written warning cautioning her behaviour.
Ellie-May’s grandmother, Brandi, told Mail On Sunday: “We’ve never even had an apology from Dr Rowe, who got away with just a slap on the wrist after her clock-watching attitude killed our beautiful girl.”
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not tarring all doctors with the same brush. Not at all. But unfortunately, these three doctors are examples of how a few bad apples can spoil the entire cart… and sadly it is stories like these that make people wary of trusting their doctors.
After all, isn’t the foundation of modern medicine supposed to be ‘first do no harm’?
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Dad-of-two dies after doctors ‘forgot to tell him he had deadly tumour’, published online 28.02.17, metro.co.uk
Surgeon accused of assaulting patients by carrying out ‘unnecessary’ breast cancer operations, published online 28.02.17, telegraph.co.uk
Girl, 5, dies hours after GP refused to see her because she was ‘four minutes late to emergency appointment’, published online 26.02.17, metro.co.uk