This is a longish story but an educational one.
Last year my GP I had been seeing for 20 years retired and his practice was bought by another doctor. I have seen her a few times and thought she was not very good but as I usually only go there for minor things I haven't been that fussed.
And then I got properly sick for the first time.
I went into my GP after suffering for days with severe stomach cramps. A new symptom I have never had before. The cramps were happening about every two hours. Day and Night. I was in a lot of pain, and wasn't eating or sleeping. Had tried Buscopan and Panadol (Acetaminophen) with absolutely zero relief.
My Gastro is still on holiday until Monday. So, I went down to my GP in between spasms. I got rushed through a consult (10 mins) as usual where she said "you have an ulcer." And chucked another brand of anti spasmodic and PPI at me.
Now, she did not take my vitals (to watch for raised blood pressure or tachycardia), check for fever (signs of infection) or give me a physical exam to check for stomach guarding (an indication that an ulcer might have perforated) or to check for tenderness, rebound tenderness or anything else.
She did not ask about any other symptoms like nausea, diarrhea, bloody stool, back pain, dizziness etc.
She also did not warn me if certain symptoms did turn up or if the pain got even worse I should go to an emergency room.
These are the very basics of a consult for the symptoms I was experiencing.
I asked about pain relief and was told I didn't need anything as the anti-spasmodic would sort it.
24 hours later and no change in my symptoms, another day and night of lying prone with a hot wheat bag. (I now have a new respect for the hot wheat bag treatment!) Day 5 of being like this looming I rang my GP's office and reported the anti-spasmodic had not worked and I was in serious pain still. What next?
The medical receptionist (very nice person) assured me she would ask the doctor as soon as she finished with her current consult.
Over 3 hours (or two spasms) later I had heard nothing so rang back. The receptionist was surprised the doctor had not rung me back. Said she would talk to the doctor again.
About another hour later I finally get a call. And it was a weird one. The doctor immediately seemed annoyed with me. I told her I had no change in my symptoms. She asked if I had been taking my anti-spasmodic "properly". I said, yes. She then said "you are on Pregabalin. Why was that prescribed for you? Why isn't that stopping your pain?" In a really accusatory voice. I was thinking A) You know why I am on Pregabalin. We talked about this yesterday, you have the report from my Specialist. B) How do you not know that Pregabalin is only effective for nerve pain? That all other studies have shown it to be ineffective in the treatment of acute pain? C) I have been on the drug for a month so if it was going to be effective against these stomach cramps I wouldn't be having these stomach cramps in the first place!
Anyway, after that small rant from her I asked is there anything else she can do for this pain. She said "no, I can't help you with the pain. Ask your Specialist to deal with your pain when he gets back. It's only 4 or 5 days away". And then said goodbye.
I decided right then that if I was still in pain overnight I was going to the after hours emergency clinic in my area and ask for some help.
Which I ended up doing at about 1am (NZT) this morning. I saw a great doctor who took my vitals, gave me a physical exam, asked if I had nausea, bloody stools, diarrhea, headache, answered my concern as to whether it was safe to wait for further investigation until my Gastro got back, (he was pretty sure I could wait based on my stable vitals and lack of stomach guarding but went through a list of symptoms that I should come straight back for if they occurred.) and had absolutely no hesitation prescribing me with pain relief (and explained about any side effects I might experience from them). He gave me four tablets to take away right then to get me through the rest of the night and a script to get me through until my Gastro returns.
And after the longest consult I have experienced since the new GP bought my local practice he gave me a discount for a "short consult"!
While I was paying my bill I saw they had a normal hours practice on site that was accepting new patients. So decided right then to dump my GP and sign up with these people.
Took my pain relief, with slight nervousness as I never had a painkiller more powerful the an over the counter one in my whole life. Had no side effects but a bit of drowziness and for the first time in 6 days I had no pain and managed to sleep for 6 hours straight and in a position other than on my back with the heat bag clutched to my gut.
So, got up this morning, took my second painkiller, and walking upright with ease, went to my GP to pick up an Omeprazole script. The usual receptionist was not on. Which was a pity as I wanted to say goodbye to her. The doctor was around and asked me if I was feeling better. I restricted myself to a polite "yes, thank you, because I went to the emergency doctors in the wee hours of the morning and finally got some pain relief and got some sleep for the first time in 6 days".
She gave me a sympathetic look of "oh, you poor thing" and then said my prescription for the Omeprazole was free today.
I left, went down and enrolled with the new practice.
So, today this GP will be getting a notice that I am no longer their patient. Maybe they will connect the dots and learn from this. As to why she refused to help me I can't say. Or why she was so annoyed with me.
It can't be because she thinks I'm a drug seeker surely. All she had to do was look at my 20 years plus practice records to see I have never asked for or been prescribed a painkiller ever before. I have never been in this much pain before. I now have an inkling of what it must be like to be in the early stages of labour!
So, anyway, to anyone I have ever advised to not put up with poor medical treatment, I took my own advice. My now former GP is dangerously incompetent and erratic and I no longer felt safe or respected under her care. I therefore had no choice but to move on.