Tuesday, February 21, 2006

NHS Direct and a Lassie story

Last week, I spent some time in the control room listening to Mark from Neenaw taking some calls. There's quite a bit to write up, and I'm working on it, but before I publish it on here I'm going to send it to Mark to make sure he's happy with what I've written. Watch this space...

This last weekend, I've been working day shifts. I think a good 40% of the calls I went to were referrals from NHS Direct. I know this, because there's a box on the screen where the call taker is supposed to note who has made the call e.g., brother, mother, passer-by etc., and for some reason we're supposed to write it on our patient report form.

One of these was to a "severe asthma attack". The MDT reported that the patient was having "difficulty speaking between breaths" and that the call had come from NHS Direct. I arrived to find a patient who could say more in one breath than I could, so much so I had trouble getting a word in edgeways. I finally managed to find out that she had had her attack the previous day, but decided she now wanted to go into hospital.

The rest of the calls were to people with 'flu, and chest infections where they'd been given anti-biotics 6 hours ago but they weren't having any effect. (anti-biotics can take 24 - 48 hours to start having an effect)

One call that reminded me of the stories you hear of pets saving their owners lives, was to a man who had been found by his wife fitting in the garden. He had no previous medical history at all, wasn't taking any medication and kept himself fit. He'd been out washing the car, and his wife heard the dog barking. She didn't think much of it at first as she thought her husband was probably playing with the dog spraying it with water, but after five minutes of relentless barking, she decided to go and see what the dog was barking at, and found it barking at her fitting husband. The crew arrived shortly after me, and the paramedic put a needle in his vein, gave him something to stop him fitting, then took him off to hospital.

I hope the dog got a big bone as a reward, a story line suited to an episode of "Lassie"


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