Working with doctors Working for patients



Brian Wood is a 48 year old Chief Executive of his own small business. He has lost his temper with practice staff in the past and has had a rocky relationship with one of the partners, Dr Hargreaves.

Brian attended the surgery two days ago with a chest infection and was mistakenly given penicillin which he'd had an allergic reaction to in the past.



Thanks for the emergency appointment. I don't know why this thing isn't shifting. I feel just as bad as I did when I last came in and on top of that I've got this awful rash.

Dr Singh

Dr Singh

Well I've checked your records, Mr Wood and I'm afraid Dr Hargreaves shouldn't really have prescribed you penicillin. Your records show you've had a bad reaction to in the past...



And he just went ahead and prescribed it to me anyway? Why didn't he check my records? That's just incompetence! This place is useless!

What should the doctor do...? Select A, B or C.


Insist that Brian calms down before carrying on with the consultation?


Offer to make an appointment for him to see Dr Hargreaves when he returns from leave so he can explain and apologise to Brian himself?


Apologise on Dr Hargreaves' behalf and explain what is likely to happen now in terms of symptoms and the best treatment?

Dr Singh

See what the doctor did

Dr Singh apologises for the mistake and talks Brian through its likely consequences. Although Dr Singh is wary of Brian's aggressive manner (and aware that he may be justified in ending the consultation in accordance with the NHS non-physical assault policy), he can understand why Brian's angry. He tells him this and hopes that apologising for the mistake will calm Brian down. He also tells him that the incident will be discussed at the next practice meeting to ensure they learn from it. Brian leaves calmer but determined to make a complaint about Dr Hargreaves' incompetence so he can be stopped from working 'before he kills someone'.


You must be open and honest with patients if things go wrong. If a patient under your care has suffered harm or distress, you must:
a. Put matters right (if that is possible)
b. Offer an apology
c. Explain fully and promptly what has happened and the likely short-term and long-term effects. (Good Medical Practice paragraph 55)