Recognizing a 45-Year-Old's Journey and Her Struggle with Health: How Continuity of Care Could Have Changed Everything

Adam Tabriz
Doctor and PatientPhoto byAuthor using Wonder Digital Arts

The Story, "Based on True Event," of an Unfortunate Woman Whose Colon Cancer Was Delayed

The sun shone brightly over Yeovil, Somerset, as Charlie Puplett made her way to the local Primary Medical Practice. She had been experiencing unexplained weight loss, a lack of appetite, and changes in her bowel habits for a few weeks. As a 45-year-old risk management controller, she knew her health was crucial to her career and family life. Little did she know that this visit to the doctor would be the beginning of a tumultuous journey.

The waiting room was filled with people with concerns and ailments. Charlie couldn't shake the feeling that something wasn't right with her health. She felt vulnerable yet hopeful that the doctors would provide the answers she sought. When her name was finally called, she took a deep breath and entered the consultation room.

Over 11 months, Charlie consulted with different doctors at the practice, feeling increasingly ignored and dismissed. One doctor even suggested that she had anorexia and was in denial. Growing increasingly desperate, she continued seeking help, unaware of the red flags the medical professionals should have recognized.

It wasn't until April 2020, after a frightening episode of vomiting blood and feces, that Charlie finally got the diagnosis she had dreaded - colon cancer. She underwent emergency surgery at Yeovil Hospital, where two-thirds of her colon and a tumor were removed, and she was fitted with a stoma, a bag that drains her bowel.

The experience left her physically and emotionally scarred, with her confidence and self-esteem shattered. As Charlie's life began to piece itself back together, she filed a complaint with the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO). Their investigation revealed that the Primary care physician had failed to refer her for further investigation within the appropriate timeframe. Had the surgery recognized the red flags and provided proper continuity of care, Charlie's journey would have been drastically different.

Continuity of care is vital to ensuring that patients receive consistent and coordinated services across various providers and settings. This can be achieved through better communication among healthcare professionals, comprehensive record-keeping, and effective care coordination.

In today's fast-paced world, healthcare leaders can ensure continuity of care by utilizing virtual technologies and hybrid patient care models. These tools can provide seamless transitions between care providers and settings, ultimately leading to better patient outcomes.

Charlie's story serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of continuity of care in the healthcare system. It is a call to action for healthcare leaders to prioritize patient-centered care and learn from past mistakes. Through effective communication, technology, and care coordination, future patients will not have to endure the same struggles that Charlie faced. The hands of time cannot be turned back, but the lessons learned can help forge a brighter future for healthcare.

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Health | Liberty | Humility

San Francisco, CA

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