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Socialized medicine: UK doctor sends away woman with just antibiotics. Hours later, she's diagnosed with cancer.


'I just can't accept that's appropriate for 21st century health care'

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

One doctor's mistake or evidence that socialized medicine is not all it is cracked up to be?

That's the question to ponder after a British woman, who in "agonizing pain" was sent home by one doctor with mere antibiotics, only to be diagnosed with advanced cancer by another doctor hours later.

What happened?

According to the Daily Mail, 61-year-old Joy Vivien Lee was recently rushed to the hospital after experiencing "agonizing abdominal pain." After waiting hours in her local emergency room, Vivien's doctor sent her home with mere antibiotics because the "doctor did not have the equipment needed to properly investigate her symptoms."

Then, within just minutes of returning home, Vivien was again rushed to the hospital — this time to a different location to see a different doctor.

It was during Vivien's second stint that doctors gave a preliminary diagnosis of ovarian cancer, which doctors believe may have, unfortunately, already spread to Vivien's bones. Doctors also identified a dark area in her breast area, which may be another sign her cancer is in an aggravated stage.

Vivien's brother, Mark Oldham-Fox, told the Daily Mail that his sister has lost "two stone" since last October, the British equivalent of 28 pounds.

"She's had stomach and lower back pains, and bloating — she has said she looks nine months pregnant," he said.

The Daily Mail reported that Vivien has since been back to the hospital, so doctors can better understand her condition.

How long did it take to get a diagnosis?

In addition to her multiple hospital trips this month, Vivien reportedly saw a doctor just before Christmas, who informed her that her issue was "gastrointestinal related and not serious."

Still, her brother said doctors at the first hospital — which discharged her with a mere antibiotic prescription — did not really care to find a solution for his sister. He explained:

She couldn't sit up because the pain was so severe, she was just in the fetal position. That alone should have alarmed the doctors but she was left lying like that for hours.

To discharge someone who then arrives home and immediately calls an ambulance because they think they're dying is shocking. I have worked in healthcare for 30 years and I know the care she received was unsatisfactory. It was inhumane and tantamount to neglect.

"I just can't accept that's appropriate for 21st century health care," Oldham-Fox said.

According to the Daily Mail, health officials have initiated an investigation to determine how Vivien's cancer was so easily overlooked.

The incident comes after a doctor at the same hospital recently turned away a critically ill patient, only for that person to die at a different hospital soon after.

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