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GP nightmares: doctors share their Halloween horror stories

Demonic children and patients appearing to return from the dead were among a number of nightmare scenarios reported by GPs this year, according to the Medical Defence Union.

The MDU asked its medical advisers to submit their own medical horror stories in the run-up to Halloween, to illustrate the variety of frightening situations that doctors face every day.

The stories included:

·         A child who was being examined for a possible chest infection asking the doctor: ‘If I stuck my hand through your ribs and pulled out your heart, how long would it keep beating?’

·         A doctor who was asked to to examine a child after its mother expressed concern about his language development finding that the only words the child would say were ‘mama’ and ‘die’ (the doctor was said to appreciate the mother’s concern)

·         A GP who was called to certify a death at home being shocked to see the supposedly dead man’s arm moving. As she looked closer, two ferrets leapt out at her from his sleeve

Dr Caroline Fryar, head of advisory services at the MDU, said that although such incidents were not commonplace, there were a number of ‘increasingly common’ situations that were guaranteed to give any doctor a fright – including misdiagnoses, patient complaints and GMC investigations.

She said:  ‘While doctors are used to dealing with life and death situations in their daily work, there are some scenarios which send a chill up even the most experienced clinician’s spine. With complaints and claims increasingly commonplace, it’s understandable for doctors to fear that they may be faced with one or both.’

She added: ‘Knowing how to deal with the situation for the best can be difficult and so it is important that the doctor seeks advice from their medical defence organisation at the earliest opportunity. Often dealing with the situation well can stop it turning into a real life horror story.’

Readers who have experienced their own primary care horror stories – whether supernatural or otherwise – are invited to share them on Twitter using the hashtag #ScaryGP.