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GPs warned over DVT referrals

GPs working for the deputising service Primecare have been told to err on the side of caution after a doctor employ-ed by the company failed to refer a patient with suspected DVT ­ and the patient later died.

The health service ombudsman said doctors working for Primecare ­ then known as Healthcall ­ should 'exercise a lower threshold' for referring suspected DVT and pulmonary embolism cases to hospital 'than was exhibited in this case'.

The patient ­ who had visited his GP the previous day with calf muscle pain ­ contacted Healthcall after experiencing shortness of breath, chest pain and coughing up blood. He was diagnosed with pneumonia by phone.

A second doctor made a home visit and diagnosed a chest infection, prescribed antibiotics and advised the patient to see his GP the following morning. The second doctor recorded that there was no sign of DVT.

The patient was admitted to hospital three days later where he died from a pulmonary embolism and DVT.

Partially upholding a complaint from the patient's wife, the ombudsman said the second doctor failed to refer the patient with suspected DVT. Primecare has apologised.

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