PCP Sends Elderly Patient Home With Cellulitis

Yesterday, the daughter of a client called about her mother’s swollen hand and arm.  She had been to her PCP the day before and  he said it was arthritis or a bone fracture.  He did some lab tests and sent her for xrays.  The following day, the lab test were all normal but my client’s arm was more swollen, painful and redder.  The daughter called the PCP who said she was fine.  She asked me if I could speak to the PCP.  I called him.  He said she had arthritis and he couldn’t do anything else for her.  She could go to the ER if she wasn’t satisfied or an orthopedic doctor.

I told the daughter to take her to the ER, now.  She did and three hours later, the daughter called with the news that her mother had a cellulitis (an infection under the skin)and was being admitted.  She will need IV antibiotics until the infection is controlled.

How can I express my horror at what her PCP did?  How could he mistake cellulitis for arthritis?  This can be a life threatening event.  One more day and my 80 year old  client would have ended up in the ICU.  I would be doing some intense praying.

There is no excuse for letting an 80 year old woman suffer.  I find many PCPs and specialists are so dismissive of my elderly clients complaints.  It is as if because you are old so you don’t get the same attention.  There is a quick jump to the crazy old person or maybe she has a form of dementia.  My client is smart, educated and knowledgeable of medicine.  When she gets a new diagnosis, she reads about it and makes a list of questions.  She has all her medical records and knows all her medications.  She annoys medical professionals because she asks specific questions and wants real answers not a brush off.  She is the original empowered patient.

I am hoping the treatment will be successful.  This occurred outside Houston, Texas.  It happens everywhere.