I thought I would give you an update on how I am getting on. For those of you who are new to this site, these are my first two posts:
You'll be glad to know I finally submitted my complaint to the Ombudsman at the beginning of October. It took me a lot longer because as my advocate, my CAB adviser and I were all working on it, I received my medical records as well as case notes from social work regarding my daughter and myself. And these shed a whole new light on the situation and added a lot more weight to my complaint. But there was so much information to make sense of that I had to pace myself and watch my stress levels.
For instance, on admission, 3 different people (2 psychiatrists and a mental health assessment nurse) all wrote 'psychotic episode' in their respective diagnosis box but Dr M (the psychiatrist who misdiagnosed with PD and discharged me) just ignored them and Dr K, her boss, claimed he found 'no evidence of psychotic illness' when he read my medical notes. He either didn't read them or missed the pages in question or he's lying.
You may remember that at our meeting, I had asked Dr M why Dr T, my current psychiatrist, had been able to diagnose me retrospectively with PP. She'd said that he'd had the benefit of hindsight and had selectively picked out references to suit that diagnosis. In fact, my notes are full of reports describing my behaviour as odd, chaotic, hysterical, paranoid, disoriented, bizarre, strange, disorganised, etc. Dr T did not pick references out, he actually summarises them. How Dr K was able to miss these reports is everyone's guess. Speaking of Dr K, I made a Freedom of Information request to my Health Board to check his claim that it wouldn't be possible to identify the nurses on shift and found that nursing rotas are legal documents which must be kept for 2 years for various purposes, including investigations. We are still within the 2 year limit now and in any case, Dr K's investigation was allegedly carried out in the spring. Interesting, isn't it?
Then there are the notes from social work. On some level, they have been useful in that many entries support my case. For example, there is my conversation with my daughter's social worker 3 hours before I left the hospital. 2 pages of me saying things like “I am not Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, “I don't anyone to get hurt” or “The Home Office has all my details”. There are also entries regarding communication with ward staff who were completely aware that I didn't want to leave and were considering getting security to remove me (so if my friends hadn't been there, I would have been manhandled out of the hospital!!!!!). They were also totally aware of my friends' concerns but instead of taking them seriously, a nurse told social services that this may be why I was anxious and refusing to leave. Which is ridiculous, I was in my room all day and so unwell at that point, I had no idea what was going on, let alone that my friends were even on the ward trying to get people to listen to them.
The notes from the mental health department of social work about the various calls from my very worried friends at that time are equally enlightening. You can sense the sheer panic and despair as they talked to social work about the situation: “unable to do anything for herself”, “shouldn't be alone”, “unable to make good decisions at present”, “has known Anne for 10 years and feels strongly that she should not be discharged home”, “inappropriate home discharge”; “hardly slept at all and appeared very irrational, paranoid and distressed”, “behaving as if she was unaware of where she was and where she was going”, “the Hospital had discharged her friend Anne when she was still clearly ill”; “not in a fit state of mind to be safely discharged home”.
So I now have a whole new complaint on my hands. For a start, the way these calls were handled was absolutely appalling. Social services refused to believe my friends' concerns and even with first-hand evidence that I was unwell, as my phone conversation with my daughter's social worker showed, no one actually rang Dr M and asked her “are you sure?”. And so they made a series of decisions about my access to my little girl based on Dr M's mistake, painting me as a dangerous and manipulative woman in denial about her personality disorder (yes, they actually use these very words and not just once).
Then, obviously, they refused to believe me when I told them the diagnosis of PD had been a mistake and they continued to liaise with Dr M (who remained confident) although she was no longer my consultant at that point - Dr T was and he had reversed her misdiagnosis. Funny how my daughter's social worker did not feel he had an ethical duty to phone Dr M when my mental health had blatantly reached crisis point as he first rang me but he did decide to phone her the following months, once I was no longer psychotic and whenever he wanted to confirm with her that I had never been mentally unwell, I just had a dysfunctional personality. And then there is the way he ignored my pleas not to close my daughter's case before I had returned to the UK and proved I had had a psychosis and did not suffer from a personality disorder. And when Dr T got in touch with him, confirming that Dr M's diagnosis was incorrect, he refused to reopen the case even when faced with the truth. In fact, he told Dr T and myself that I would need to start a new case from scratch and when I did, social work closed it instantly.
As you can imagine, all this has been really difficult to process without getting upset and I had to take a break from it all for a few weeks as I was starting to get really stressed, smoke again and lose sleep. Writing this post is actually the first step in getting back in the swing of things.
The second step will be tomorrow morning. Several entries in the social work notes were redacted because “responsibility for sharing information lies with police”. I made a request to the police and now have to deal with one aspect of what they've sent me: there is actually very little on the incidents I was interested in, only two short pages compared to at least half a dozen page-long sections blackened by marker pen in the social work notes. Until I know what these police reports are about, I can't action any kind of complaint process as social services can turn round and say 'we were acting on information we were given but cannot share with you'.
Then I will need to send off my mammoth case to a charity specialised in medical accidents to see if legally, I could have a case for negligence. I am sending them something very similar to what I sent the Ombudsman but with an extra bit on the material and psychological costs of the misdiagnosis (the Ombudsman is not really interested in anything beyond getting them to admit they made a mistake, apologise and make sure it won't happen again). Writing this extra document is really hard, as I get angry and sad at the same time describing what I had to endure because of the misdiagnosis. I know there is no rush, though, as long as my case is with the Ombudsman, I can't take legal action. But the case is so big and complex that it would be good to send it asap, so that they have plenty of time to get back to me. Seeking legal advice does not count as legal action.
I know the Ombudsman are processing my complaint in a timely manner as I get regular updates from my reviewer who seems to be quite competent. But he did say it could take 6 months. Another thing is that the Ombudsman won't look at the actual way my complaint was initially handled by the NHS, Dr M and her boss, Dr K. This is really annoying because that was an integral part of my case. Both Dr M and Dr K had been intimidating, patronising and defensive at our meeting. And as I say in my Ombudsman form, “inaccurate information was given verbally then as well as in writing in Dr K's letters” - a polite way of saying “they were lying through their teeth”. So I guess this side of things might have to be handled by a solicitor instead.
Last but not least, I am also impatiently waiting on the Ombudsman's decision because if I am successful, a formal apology will really help me in securing shared custody of my daughter. At the moment, I have her 2 nights and 2 days a week and whilst this is a lot better than it ever used to be, my ex is very reluctant to let me have her more. Yet another legal battle on my hands...
Thank you so much for reading and generally being there. As always, any advice, suggestion, thought or word of wisdom would be welcome at this stage.