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Inquest told GP too busy for proper consultation

12 November 2008

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An inquest into the death of a disabled epileptic patient has heard that an out-of-hours GP was too busy to carry out a proper consultation before prescribing him drugs over the telephone for a stomach bug.

Andrew Dodson, 36, died hours after the telephone consultation following a seizure at his home in Swindon, Wiltshire, on 21 April last year.

Dr David De Villiers, working for the out-of-hours service at the Clover Centre in Swindon’s Great Western Hospital, had prescribed the drug Buccastem after Mr Dodson complained of severe sickness and diarrhoea.

The inquest at Wiltshire Coroner’s Court heard that Mr Dodson’s father Frederick first called the service at 3.15pm and called again at 5.15pm. The NHS guidelines state that a call to the out-of-hours service must be followed up within 60 minutes.

It was not until 5.40pm that GP Dr David De Villiers called the family to discuss Mr Dodson’s symptoms. He had started his six-hour shift at 5pm that day and had been working through a backlog of calls to get to Mr Dodson.

His parents have criticised the service for failing properly to assess Mr Dodson, who was taking seven different types of drugs for epilepsy, blood pressure and cholesterol.

But Dr De Villiers told the inquest jury: “If I had known he was suffering from epilepsy I would have most probably given him the same prescription because it was a small dose.”

When asked by the coroner, David Masters, whether the pressure of his workload had had any impact on the consultation he agreed, saying: “It was quite busy at that time and we are short-staffed and there always seemed to be long queues for consultations.”

The inquest continues.

Copyright © Press Association 2008