Anger after swine flu misdiagnosis

A woman who was told she had swine flu ended up in hospital with a serious leg infection.

Anne Smith, 48, of Wagstaff Lane, Jacksdale, initially thought she had swine flu and rang the national helpline which issued her with Tamiflu drugs to treat it.

She also saw her GP who said he thought she had the virus.

But Ms Smith and her family were concerned the diagnosis was wrong as she has a heart condition and they wanted her to see a GP again because her leg was beginning to swell.

So four days later she went to a walk-in health centre in Nottingham and explained what had happened. But she was turned away because the centre thought she was infected with swine flu.

Ms Smith's son, David, said: "Her leg was four times its normal size and the man at the desk just said, 'Go home'.

"I find it so hard to believe that in this day and age someone can go to a medical centre where you are supposed to trust people and they can treat you like that."

Worried David, 26, eventually took his mum to King's Mill Hospital in Sutton- in-Ashfield which diagnosed cellulitis, caused by poor circulation due to the heart condition. He claimed doctors said if it had been 24 hours later the infection might have killed her because it was spreading.

"If it had gone to her heart it would have given her septicaemia and with her heart being the way it is, who knows what would have happened.

"I was trying to explain to them on the phone that she had a heart problem and many of the symptoms he was reading out she suffered with anyway. I said I think someone really needs to see her.

"People with serious underlying problems should not just be diagnosed over the phone. It seems madness to me. We are not talking about GPs – just people checking off a list of symptoms.

"How can someone who is not a qualified GP talk to someone with serious problems and prescribe them Tamiflu?

"It's a good idea to do something about the pandemic, but more people are going to die from serious underlying problems being misdiagnosed."

A spokesperson for the walk-in centre said flu symptoms were assessed by a nurse who checked whether patients needed emergency care.

If they did, they were put in an isolated area to wait for an ambulance and if they did not they were advised to go home and ring their GP.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said: "You should contact your doctor direct rather than using the National Pandemic Flu Service if you have a serious underlying illness.

"The questions asked by the National Pandemic Flu Service (NPFS) to

determine whether a person has swine flu have been agreed by a range of clinicians and specialist UK Royal Colleges."

Ms Smith is in hospital and is expected to make a full recovery.