Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr - Rapid Response Paramedic

Earlier this evening I was having a bad asthma attack and my medication was not helping much so I had to dial 999 and asked for ambulance. My peakflow was 130.

The Rapid Reponse Paramedic that attended was very abrupt with me and said that I was overbreathing because of my chest infection, he refused to treat me then left.

There I was, left alone having an asthma attack, I was not sure what to do so I then decided to try and treat myself with my Atrovent inhaler, I had already used the maximum dose of that medication during today, so I risked overdosing on that medication because I was frightened to call the ambulance service again in case the same Paramedic returned to me.

My usual dose of Atrovent inhaler is 2 puffs 4 times a day when chest is bad, so I took it, which now means I have taken 6 lots of Atrovent today, fortunately this medication did eventually work for me, so it was asthma despite what the Paramedic said.

This experience has now made me think twice now about telephoning for an ambulance in future

23 Replies

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  • I've had that many times..... generally I get the same ones back in a hour when I am turning blue! then they shut up. But now the crews know me well from being a regualar they are realy good with me... no messing!

  • Hi asthmagirl

    sorry to hear you're not feeling well at the moment, a peakflow of 130 is really low and is often low enough to result in needing treatment in A&E if not admission. I am so sorry to hear that you had this experience with the rapid response paramedic, it doesn't sound right that he didn't send you to A&E especially as you have a chest infection and you asthma wasn't good, being checked over would have probably been a good idea. How are you doing now? If you are still not feeling well I urge you to go to A&E either by calling an ambulance or getting there yourself maybe in a taxi or by car. It is really important to get help if your attack is not getting better and you did the right thing here.

    Please, please, please call do dial 999 if you are experiencing an attack or if in doubt, a good paramedic would rather see you less unwell than being much much worse and difficult to treat.

    *hugs*

    simi x

  • Asthma girl u can submit a complaint against the paramedic. In doing so hopefully you will get an appology and reassurance that U did right to phone for an ambulance. I had two paramedics who told me I was ""hyperventilating and to go for a walk as my sats where fine and no wheeze"" They refused to take me to a and e. made me sign a dissclaimer. My wife had a fight with them they still left with me sitting on a garden wall as they decided I needed fresh air. My wife drove me to a and e . I was in for 3 days. Wish I put a complaint in but never did.

    Hope your feeling better now

  • Very sorry and shocked to hear this. It's just NOT ON. If you feel a bit stronger today I think you should ring up hospital and complain about the paramedic. Follow it up with written complaint - really make a fuss. They should not be allowed to get away with this. Good luck and I hope you feel better today.

  • This is appaling, how many drunks do they scrape off the floor on fri and sat nights and take to a&e to 'sleep it off'.

    Even if this time it wasn't serious (and I'm not suggesting it wasn't) what happens next time when you don't call them out because you're worried they'll say the same, and it turns out to be much more serious.

    If you'd have gone to a&e yourself, they wouldn't have turned you away would they, so what gives the paramedic the right? Even if he'd have suggested you make your own way to a&e, it'd have been better than just leaving you.

    I'd definately make a complaint, not only for yourself but on behalf of every other person he might turn away and put their life at risk.

  • hi asthma girl,

    i too was appalled to read this, you should have insisted they took you to a&e as it's not up to them to make the decision and put your life in potentially unnecessary danger. When you feel well enough to you must make a complaint, as you can't feel frightened to get help when you really need it. Still if you feel you need an ambulance you should still ring, and tell them that's what you've been told to do by your asthma nurse or consultant. This behaviour by paramedics, nurses, doctors etc just isn't on and it's up to us to complain to be treated properly. I hope you get better soon.

  • I am also totally shocked (but sadly not surprised). My advice is to wait a couple of days then when you are feeling a bit calmer write a complaint letter. Your complaint should be addressed to the PALS (patient advice and liaison service) at the appropriate ambulance service. It might be worth asking what their guidelines for treating asthmatics are, as a peakflow of 130 sounds really low and it might be the case that they are supposed to take people to hospital if their peakflow is under a certain percent.

    I myself have just posted a complaint letter about a doctor I met in hospital! It can make you feel better just by writing the letter and most importantly it might make the paramedic a better paramedic in the future.

    Hope you are feeling a bit better now and have someone to make you soothing cups of tea! Don't feel afraid to seek help in the future.

    Take care

    Bryony

  • Asthmagirl,

    what a shocking responce for you,

    I would put in a complaint and send it to PALS.

    Make sure you still ring 999 etc when you are bad and get the help you need.

    Your pf was realy low and you did the right thing calling them.

    Goodluck and take care ,

    love Glynis xxx

  • Rapid response

    Sorry this happened to you asthma girl. I was attended by an ambulance man who refused to take me in. He just filled out a report and left me high and dry. I was forced to ring for another crew 10 minutes or so later, the new crew could not believe how he miss the state I was in. I was quickly rushed to hospital resus and kept in for 6 days. I made a formal complaint as soon as I got home as I was scare to ring them after that. The LAS head office sent a 4 page apology and advised me that the ambulance man was retrained and asthma is taken seriously and it shouldn't have happened.

    Most ambulance crews have been very helpful to me, but that one occasion nearly put my life in danger. My consultant told me that I have never wasted hospital time and if I delay I hurt only myself. I have been admitted 15 times already so I tell them politely how to help me. As sorry won't cut it for my family if they fail me.

    Gill

  • hi asthmagirl,

    im sorry you had such a horrible experience as others have said you should report that paramedic. I had a similar experience but the paramedic i saw was wonderful better than the gp i had at that point in time.

    (he's the one who convinced me that i needed to take my difficult asthma more serious than was at that time!) He said in a situation like i was when he arrived switch to use my ventolin (its 200 mcg) every 20mins if the previous dose didnt work until the ambulance arrived.

    So you think you the right thing, but its a shame that paramedic was so unhelpful!

  • Some areas have ECPs or Emergency Care Practitioners, paramedics with a bit more training in skills like stitching, assessing, treating people in their own homes. I think this is probably what some people get. They are to try to relieve the workload in A&E. Works sometimes but obviously they didn't recognise the seriousness of your asthma. As asthma is so variable, and they may have had bog standard training in asthma eg wheezing , going blue etc, so may have mis diagnosed!

    Anyway, anyone with breathing dificulties, whether it be asthma or otherwise should really be assessed in hospital too.

    Another thing that has happened recently is people calling out ambulances for trivial things such as a sore throat, for the last week, and demanding the ambulance crew take them to A&E as it is their right! This therefore may have a backlash on the genuine cases where a RRP or ECP attends who can treat at home. Some crews have to transport unless the patient declines etc.

    All Ambulance trusts will vary too!

    I hope you are feeling better and don't be afraid to call 999 again.

    Kate

  • Hi asthmagirl,

    Please don't be put off and don't ever be scared to call 999 - you know your asthma better than anyone and we all know how serious asthma can be.

    If you frequently require the ambulance service or experience problems, it may be worth contacting them to see if you qualify for a patient specific protocol (PSP). I have one of these (in addition to hospital protocol, action plan etc) and it is, quite literally, a life-saver. I have one because my asthma is brittle and I can deteriorate quickly, looking well one moment and being very unwell the next. In addition I have other severe health issues and a disability which can mask the asthma problems as I have difficulty communicating verbally.

    The PSP means that the paramedics are alerted before arrival and are aware that not looking too bad is not an indication that things are okay for me. They're also aware of the complications that can arise. For me it provides a degree of reassurance and makes me feel more in control and better able to manage / get help if the need arises.

  • Update

    Thanks to everyone who responded to this message.

    I got worse thoroughout the evening and night and had to call NHS Direct (because my lips went blue) who contacted the out of hours doctor, fortunately for me the doctor was a GP at the doctor's surgery I am and she very cross about the Paramedics actions or rather the lack of, she came to my home and stayed with me and treated me for 2 hours whilst I was being given oxygen, nebuliser and three nebules of Atrovent later plus a steroid injection. The doctor made the telephone call to Southern Central Ambulance and made an official complaint.

    I am feeling a bit better today though.

  • thats so blinking shocking. i hope that they do make him retrain as he obv doesnt know his job very well if your peak flow was that low... i always have the opposite in that im taken in every time which makes me naffed off cos they always say we will just treat you at home -but then take me in regardless. i did have a doc once say that i was making it worse cos i was hypervent breathing- well derr yes i was cos i was wobbly as anything with the amount of inhalers and nebs and stressed to bits cos couldnt settle a bad asthma attack.....like to see them deal with it without getting stressed. hope you are ok today x

  • Hi asthma girl. Clearly the paramedic was acting inappropriately here. Make sure that your GP tells you what the response was to his complaint. Don't let this one poor experience put you off from calling 999 again. At the end of the day you are the expert when to comes to your condition.

  • That's a disgrace, I've recently been advised by a specialist the first thing they should do is check your peak flow (if you can do it). She was cross when I told her I was turned away from casualty last year (without pf check) as I 'wasn't wheezing'. Like you, I tried treating myself - with piriton on top of inhalers, which helped ease things, my specialist said I was lucky that it did.

    I've been asked by docs/nurses why I haven't dialled 999 when I've been struggling, I thing your experience and my last casualty experience explain it all. I'd give your docs/asthma nurse a call to let them know what happened and they may prescribe something extra to help.

    Hope you are feeling better soon.

  • I received an e-mail today from the ambulance service involved asking for further information from me because they want to carry out there own investigation as to why this happened

  • thats really good that they are investigating it. im really sorry to hear it happened in the first place.

    Jess x

  • OMG Asthmagirl that is horrid. I have the call 99 loads for either me or my son and so far we have never had this issue. So glad the ambulance service are doing an investigation I hope that paramedic get's reprimanded for what he did. He should of called in for an ambulance to take you in to A&E for a doctor to give you a check over with a peak flow at 130. Hope the asthma is better than it is and you never have to go through this experience again

  • Another Update

    The ambulance service in question here are wanting to have a meeting with me to discuss this further it is nice to know that they are taking this seriously.

  • One word - that is absolutely disgusting! I really feel for you..you shouldn't have had to go through that! I really hope you've given some constructive feed-back and hope they put measures in place to stop this thing from happening again.

    Gareth

  • sorry to hear of your negative experience. Although I too have been there with a RRP. One refused to treat me because I ""wasn't wheezy"" got to A and E and found out I had a silent chest. Not seen that particular Paramedic since

  • Good News

    Thought you all would like to know that I have received a letter of apology from the ambulance service involved and the Rapid Response Paramedic has spoken to about this issue.

    It did come to light during there investigation that he should have got me to do my peakflow and when my oxygen levels dropped I should have been given oxygen.

    At least they are continuing to monitor the paramedics work

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