Doc distraught over patient’s letter complaining about lack of treatment for strep throat

Dear editor,

I read today with dismay the letter you published from my patient Gloria Rickson (Untreated strep throat results in return to hospital, and lengthy stay, July 17), and I request that you publish this in reply.

It is disappointing that once again only one side of a story is presented in such letters.

Throat pain is a complaint seen hundreds of times a day, and is caused by so many things that I do not have room on the page to list them all. “Strep throat” is only one cause. For some time antibiotics were overprescribed for sore throat but medical and nursing current practice is to take a history, examine the patient and to send laboratory tests if needed; then to treat based on these results, rather than guess. The tone and content of this letter implies that her care was inadequate in the evening when she went to hospital with a sore throat.

When the patient presented to me mid-morning the following day it was not a heroic diagnosis, for although erysipelas is uncommon, it is something that a medical student would recognize, and naturally she was sent in for treatment.

Had she gone back to Emergency in the very early hours of the morning when it developed, certainly once again, appropriate treatment would have been started.

I have been fortunate to have had my three children delivered at St. Joseph’s Hospital, my husband, my children and I have all had medical care through the hospital.

I have been proud to have been a member of the medical staff since 1992 and am grateful for the competent and compassionate care we have received.

None of us can see the future when undifferentiated symptoms come our way, such as sore throats, chest pains, headaches etc., whether we are physicians, nurses or parents. Many times in illness, time has to pass or tests have to be run to try to make a diagnosis.

I continue to be grateful for the care that is provided in this community by the hospital staff, from the front-line emergency physicians, nurses and support staff, to the multitude of people in all departments, including volunteers, who continue to provide care with compassion despite the challenges we face in health care.

Sue Hunter,

MD, CCFF

Comox

 

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