Intended for healthcare professionals

Observations Border crossing

Who is at the helm on patient journeys?

BMJ 2007; 335 doi: (Published 12 July 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:76
  1. Tessa Richards, assistant editor, BMJ
  1. trichards{at}

    Doctors know that poor communication and lack of continuity of care are behind many medical errors. So why aren't they doing more to coordinate care?

    Two years ago a 41 year old English journalist died from septicaemia. Her case haunts me. Two days before the Easter weekend Penny Campbell had an injection for haemorrhoids. During the weekend she became progressively unwell and called the out of hours medical service eight times. None of the doctors she contacted realised how ill she was. By the next day the die was cast; within 24 hours she was dead.

    Her case hit the headlines and continues to do so. Four months ago London's Evening Standard (14 March) used it to lambast the “costly shambles” of GP out of hours services and called for GPs to resume running Saturday surgeries. I shudder at the distress Penny must have felt and that expressed by her husband in a Daily Mail article (“The eight doctors who failed to diagnose my dying wife,” 29 May). I relate to it too: over the weekend before my father died I also made eight calls to …

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