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"Snappy diagnosis resulted in worried parents"

About: The Children's University Hospital / Paediatric Respiratory Medicine

(as a parent/guardian),

On Christmas day a few years ago my son who was about 14 months at the time was not well at all, he was lying and lobing no energy whats so ever, this had become the norm to be honest as the three previous month we had experienced this and each time we brought him to the doctor we were told it's a chest infection and he was placed on a course of steroids and within a few days he would be back to normal, So this was no different it was just we really hated him not being able to enjoy his Christmas.

We rang the D doc (the emergency doctor) we were told to bring him to the surgery and yet again we were told chest infection and placed on steroids. I began to question the doctor saying this is becoming to regular and could it be symptoms of an underlying problem and without hesitation the doctor snarled back "Well in my opinion I would think it could be cystic fibrosis". This obviously floored my wife and I. I questioned the doctor saying how could they make a diagnosis like that after just listening to his chest? The doctor then began to back pedal after seeing how upset my wife was getting saying it could be just asthma, as the change in weather could be causing it and we shouldn't worry.

We left our son his steroids and by New Years he was back to himself but unfortunately the bell had already been rung and my wife beside herself with worry about what the doctor had originally said. It ruined our Christmas. We began researching CF online and to be fair some of the symptoms were there but the doctor wouldn't of known this by her quick examination of our son.

In the New Year we brought our son to our GP and told her what had happened, she immediately dismissed the previous doctors statement saying there was no doubt in her mind., our son did not have CF which in fairness did put our worries at rest some what but we wanted to be certain, as what we read about CF really scared us as it is a horrific disease with no cure.

Our GP referred us to Temple Street Hospital, six months later we were brought in for a sweat test to check if our son had CF. The doctor in Temple Street once again told us that it's very unlikely that our son would have it but understood that we needed to have our minds put at rest or in the worse case start planning for his future if he did indeed have it. We were told we would have to wait two weeks for the results, we left the hospital very nervous and to be honest I was terrified but could not let my wife see this as I needed to be strong for her because if she thought I was as worried as I was, she would fall apart.

Four extremely long days later days we had a missed call from our GP and when we returned her call she was out to lunch and wouldn't be back for two hours. My wife's mind began racing and to be honest so did mine, why would she be calling after four days? is there something wrong? they must of put a rush on it because they really thought he had it? My wife must of rang that surgery every ten minutes hoping the doctor was back early, and after like the fourth or fifth call the the secretary asked why she was desperate to get in touch with the doctor and could she help her with anything. My wife explained the whole situation to her and she knew my wife was terrified, so even though it was against the rules the secretary went checked my sons file and informed her that my sons results were back and that she couldn't give the results over the phone but she did say "speaking as a parent if I got these results about my child I wouldn't be worrying about a thing" which was a huge relief to both of us. We hugged our son gave him a kiss and thanked God he was fine and healthy and a few minutes later the doctor called us back and confirmed what the secretary had told us.

We went through six months of panic and worry trips to A&E when his breathing became bad, all because a doctor who didn't like the fact that they were working Christmas Day or the fact that somebody questioned their diagnosis snapped and told us our son has CF which in turn means our son's life would be spent in and out of hospital with little chance of a normal childhood. That is no way to treat worried parents, sure I know we can be over bearing, paranoid, and over protective but that's a parents job and as a doctor you have to deal with that - you lead up to bad news and only after tests.

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