In memory of AnnieBMJ 1999; 318 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.318.7185.745 (Published 13 March 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;318:745
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The story of Annie cannot fail to touch us all. It would be easier to
take if one could believe that it was an isolated or unusual incident, but
experience suggests otherwise. A quarter as a student at Barts. I recall a
very similar case of an air hostess with HD who was brushed aside with
blandishments by her GP over a period of two years as she went back to him
repeatedly about the swollen glands in her neck. There's no guarrantee
that the outcome would have been different but it is reasonable to assume
that her prognosis would have been better if the disease had been
diagnosed at an earlier stage. (Stage 3 at first diagnosis). At about the
same time I was clerk to a poor old gentleman who had returned to his GP
every couple of weeks or so for refill of medication for his
'haemorrhoids'. The doctor had been too bloody lazy to pull the man's
trousers down and so missed a huge, fungating anal carcinoma that you
couldn'y miss at 10 meters.
Such poor professional behaviour is nothing short of malpractice. Annie's
story provides the justification for the need for ongoing professional re-
evaluation and re-certification. There is probably little value in
litigation unless it sends a message to the rest of us that we need to
check frequently to make sure that our socks are pulled up. We should
thank the authors of the story for sharing their pain with us and take the
opportunity to examine our own practices.
Competing interests: No competing interests