Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Crying Baby

I've just been doing a day of working with qualified doctors on the theme of Safeguarding Children.

I was playing a mother with a baby that cries all the time and is very likely to have been hit or shaken by her father.

The doctors knew that, morally and legally, their job as GP was to get the baby to be seen by a paediatrician at the hospital immediately and they were learning to find ways to persuade the mother to take the baby - - or, failing that, tell her that the baby was going to hospital with or without her agreement.

As the mother, I was arguing that they were only bruises, and that they weren't serious, and that the toddler had probably crashed into the baby with his toy car. The doctors weren't having any of it. "I'm paid to be a pessimist" said one of them. They were all determined on one thing - the baby was going to hospital, now, with no delays.

And that was the point of the course they were on - for them to learn to recognise a potentially serious situation, and deal with it effectively. And they were great.

On the radio news on the way home, I heard that Dr Sabah Al-Zayyat, one of the doctors who examined the child known as Baby P is "suicidal" and described as unfit to defend herself at a GMC Fitness to Practise panel.

Baby P - murdered by his mother, her boyfriend and their lodger - had very serious injuries at the time he was seen by this doctor, including a broken back and broken ribs.

However, she didn't carry out a full check-up because he was "miserable and cranky".

Well - - yes. Probably because he had a broken back and broken ribs.

I know that hindsight is wonderfully clear. But that doctor failed that child completely. Whatever the parents were saying, or whatever state the child was in, it was her duty to look for the facts, and she didn't.

I hope that the doctors I was working with today will not be making any similar mistakes. They were all very thorough, and very committed, and I don't think they will.

Of course, I already knew the point of the course that these doctors were on - - but this news item served to bring it home to me. They are really working at the sharp end, and I have the utmost respect for the ones who put the effort in to do it right.


Anonymous ruth said...

Did the doctors know the theme of the day was 'Safeguarding Children' - could be a bit of a giveaway. Having said that, I totally agree with you, the doctor in the Baby P case is unlikely to have a valid excuse and being 'unfit to defend herself' is almost beyond irony. Mind you, I would probably be suicidal too if I had so spectacularly failed in my duty of care.

9:36 pm  
Blogger Ailbhe said...

Nothing they can do to that doctor could be worse than having to live with what her mistake allowed to happen. She won't be practicing again, anyway.

10:07 pm  

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