The NHS has recently announced the launch of the national swine flu helpline.
The helpline aims to relieve the burden on NHS staff by diagnosing swine flu over the telephone, based solely on a patient’s description of their symptoms.
As more people are relying on the helpline for medical advice, it seems that the number of people being misdiagnosed with swine flu is increasing and serious illnesses are, worryingly, going unnoticed.
This week it has been reported that a young female was wrongly diagnosed with swine flu after displaying classic symptoms of the potentially fatal illness, appendicitis. Her mother was advised that no medical professional would be coming out to examine her; however, she was taken to hospital by her mother and was diagnosed as suffering with appendicitis. She underwent potentially life saving surgery the following day.
Another incident was reported whereby, sadly, a two year old girl lost her life following an incorrect diagnosis of swine flu. It transpired that she had in fact been suffering from meningitis though this went unnoticed by health professionals.
The meningitis Trust have recently expressed their concerns regarding the swine flu helpline and warned that many of the symptoms associated with meningitis and swine flu are common to both conditions.
A recent survey showed that 90% out of 251 GPs thought that serious underlying illnesses were going unnoticed as a result of swine flu being diagnosed over the phone.
Although the NHS are faced with a significant increase in demand for their services as a result of the swine flu pandemic, it seems that diagnosing swine flu over the telephone is not the answer as serious underlying illnesses are going undiagnosed.
At Stephensons our clinical negligence solicitors are able to offer advice to anyone who feels that they have been wrongly diagnosed with a medical condition.
By clinical negligence solicitor, Claire Stockley