Safety first or last?

Someone seems to have stuck a stick of dynamite up my GP’s backside and blasted him into the 21st century. Last month, out of the blue, the receptionist told Adam, that they now have a website through which we can now order my prescriptions and book appointments, without having to phone. I checked it out with total excitement, yes, my world has become that limited, and when I read the leader page, my excitement grew. There was my dream, access to my personal files. It didn’t last long, as it turns out it is up to each GP individually to decide if they want to open our notes this way or not, mine has chosen the not. I had also hoped that I might be able to request a phone call, since clearly I don’t need appointments, but no luck there either. On the good side, we can at least put in the prescription requests.

Then yesterday morning, the phone rang, it was a call from my doctor, well not quite, it was from the surgery number. There was this woman who introduced herself as the practise pharmacist. I wasn’t even sure that the practise employed a cleaner, far less something as posh as a pharmacist, so I was somewhat shocked. No, I’m not implying the building is dirty, it’s just I wouldn’t have been surprised to discover the receptionists were also the cleaners. Anyway, the pharmacist was calling to check that I was taking the correct dose of one of my drugs. There was an error in the dosage on her screen which I had spotted on the pack when it arrived here. Because I knew what I should have been taking, I had ignored it, but she sounded as though she was more than a little concerned and told me that I must only ever take one puff twice a day, not the two on the label. It was clear from the quantities we had been ordering that that was in fact, what I was already doing. It set me thinking about who is supposed to check what, as accidents can undoubtedly happen, we are all human after all. This one, surprised me, though, as I have been on that inhaler now for well over two years, and it has been supplied by at least two different chemists. The original prescription had been requested by my consultant, my doctor then wrote it up, and it has been in the hands of several pharmacists, but suddenly, out of the blue, one stopped and checked it that bit more closely, what happened to all the others?

We automatically assume when a drug arrives in our hands, that we have the right drug, with the right dosage instruction written clearly on it. I have never once, looked further than that. I’ve never checked online to see what the recommended dosage is, or questioned anything about any drug when first prescribed. I suspect, the same can be said for all of us, we assume, we expect and we believe that it is always correct. I know that in the past on two separate occasions a chemist has refused to fill one of my prescriptions, without first talking to my doctor. On both occasions, it has been the same thing, the very high dosage of steroids that I at times need for flares. They both wanted to double check them, as the dosage is off the scale for most people. That, I believed until yesterday, was the safeguard, the pharmacist. This time, I was lucky, when I started taking it, I remembered what my consultant had said about it, and how to take it, so I knew. That was pure luck, as normally, I remember nothing and by now I could have been taking a double daily dose for nearly 2 years. It appears that all our medications safety relies on, is luck. Is that really a good thing to work with, just luck.

Lately, we are being repeatedly told that if you can’t get an appointment with you doctor, and your condition is minor, to consult your local pharmacists. The TV ads portray this well-educated person, just a step below our own GP’s, who’s knowledge is vast and that we can trust, trust to prescribe us the correct treatment for what ails us. Long long before those ads appeared, in fact, for a lot of my adult life, that is exactly what I have done, for anything not serious enough for a doctor’s attention. I’ve watched them filling prescriptions, two of them side by side, apparently checking all is correct. I have even seen some, flicking through drug manuals, I thought to check dosages or any detail, they were uncertain about. For 2 years, my prescription has been in the hands of what must be dozens of these professionals, yet only now, one spots the error? Why?

In this case, there was no danger, but it could have been a very different story. There are a million and one drugs out there that could have killed me long ago, some of which I am actually still on. It has made my realise that maybe, just maybe, that in the future it might just be worth checking ourselves, something that these days, it’s easy to do. At our fingertips, is the exact same information those well paid professional use daily. Putting in one more check as we start yet another new drug, might just save us problems in the future.


Please read my blog from 2 years ago today – 17/03/2014 – Still longing

I used to think that when I grew up I would know the answer to everything and that my life would flow smoothly as I would have nothing left to learn. It’s amazing just how wrong a child can be and how far from even scrapping the surface I am from actually knowing anything. All of us have a million questions daily, some small, some amazingly big, but in our minds at the second they appear they feel just the same. I never got the chance to do so many things in my life that I wanted to do, not because anything really stopped me but more because life just took over, time pasts and somehow those things just became unimportant. The places I wanted to go, the……






Independent dreaming

Paul Gambaccini, the person who caused me so much distress yesterday morning, I remembered his name 24hrs on from when I needed it. I remember finding him rather annoyed and a reason for switching the radio off, may be this was some kind of revenge. At least I eventually got there for once. I also luckily remembered late yesterday afternoon to phone and book my hospital transport for Thursday, I have to go an have another endoscopy, this time throat down and the good thing is there is no preparation for this other than to not eat after 9am, which I can manage with ease. I am kind of annoyed at having to go back there again as they could have done this procedure at the same time as the other one. Once again my appointment is in the afternoon and once again they have said they can’t guarantee getting me there on time, because different ambulance crews take lunch at different times and I need a double crew, nor can they tell me what time they will be able to get me home. Organization at it’s best! There isn’t anything that can be done about it, it is just the way it is.

This morning I have peace here in the living room as Adam read what I wrote yesterday and he is settled in the bedroom for a change. He really doesn’t understand the amount of noise he actually makes, it isn’t a gentle background sound, it’s more an attempt to bring down the surrounding walls. I have also actually remembered to put in my prescription requirements with my doctor, that is another system that I wish they would change, the doctors actually do have a website that seems to be just for information, but if I could get my prescription there, I would actually not be in the position of a last minute call. I always seem to remember after they have shut for the day, and mind you I just caught them today as Tuesday is their half day. I personally prefer any option to do anything on line, it isn’t laziness or just the fact I don’t like talking on the phone, it is just in general better as it can be done at any time at all, day or night. I have managed to keep my life reasonably close to that lived by the working world hours, but many who are ill don’t manage that and fall into aback to front way of living. They say that we live in a 24/7 world, but when you really try to live life that way, it doesn’t exist. Over the last year thanks to the Olympics we keep hearing that there is a heightened awareness of the disabled, well awareness is one thing, helping to adjust the world to make it accessible to all of us, appears to be something completely different. At least the doctors are now happy to post the prescription out to me, and then Adam takes it to the chemist, but it is another one of those things that I can take so far, and have to then have someone else to complete. If I didn’t have Adam I have no idea how I would get my meds at all, as all the systems I know of, there is still a requirement at some point for the third person.

It is many years now since I was last out in my wheelchair and although I could to some extent manage the city centers central shopping areas, getting between them was impossible. It just takes one pavement that has not been lowered at the edge and you are stuck, but that seems to be the way of life, they sort out the main area’s and then totally forget about the bits in between. Regardless of your condition or the extent of your disability, when you look closely at all the things someone has to do in a month, in there will be a selection of small things that mean your life isn’t, and can’t be independent. As time has passed my list of thing I need others to do for me has and will increase, but there are so many simple ways, small things that would mean my independence and that of others, could be maintained, the really annoying thing is they are all cheap and easy things to change, but would make the world of a difference to a great number of people, a number that is always increasing. I know that not everyone is disabled, but all of us will at some point be elderly, and the things that would make a disabled life easier, are actually the same things that could and would make life easier for you in the future.