Former NHS nurse wrongly said she was dying of organ failure from a GP on video call

A 92-year-old pensioner was told she had organ failure after a video call with a family doctor, where they said her yellow skin confirmed the fatal diagnosis, which turned out to be false

Nurse given wrong message during video call (stock image)
Nurse given wrong message during video call (stock image)

A video call-only GP mistakenly diagnosed a former nurse, telling the 92-year-old she was dying.

The pensioner was told to start end-of-life care after a GP told her she had organ failure during a video consultation.

The heartbreaking diagnosis was made because the doctor “could see from the video that her skin was yellow,” the woman’s son, Michael Gough Cooper, was told.

His mother, who declined to name Michael, said the “vibrant” former NHS worker has dementia and lives in a care home on the Isle of Wight.

She was recovering well from a Covid diagnosis last week when her carers began to worry about her loss of appetite.

They contacted the local surgery, Cowes Medical Center, to try to organize a visit, The Daily Telegraph reported.

However, despite requests for a personal visit, the GP would reportedly only see the pensioner via video call.

Cowes Medical Center


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Mr Gough Cooper, from Chiltington, West Sussex, received a call at home telling him the heartbreaking news that his mother had been diagnosed with liver failure and was dying.

This diagnosis was to be proven wrong.

Mr Gough Cooper was “shocked” to find the GP had never personally visited his mother before making such a serious diagnosis.

He called the doctors and asked for an explanation, but was later contacted by a doctor other than the one who had diagnosed his mother. You simply read the appointment notes during the call.

When asked how they could make such a diagnosis via video call, the GP explained that the first doctor “could see from the video that her skin was yellow.”

Mr Gough Cooper argued the yellow skin could have been a lot of things, but was told that was the GP’s conclusion.

However, he went ahead and asked if the GP could visit his mother now, but was told that was not possible due to her recent Covid diagnosis.

Mr Cough Cooper didn’t know if she had still tested positive at the time but said the care home had an “adequate” stock of PPE.

The only way to get a second opinion on the fatal diagnosis was to take his mother to the emergency room.

She was discharged after four days in hospital and has since made a full recovery.

Mr Cough Cooper has now made a formal complaint about her treatment to the Care Quality Commission.

A senior GP at the practice told the Daily Telegraph: “We are sorry to hear of the family’s experience. When a patient, family member or caregiver raises such concerns, we always offer to discuss the matter further.

“We are in regular contact for our patients who live in nursing homes
with the home [and] Always support patients when the nursing home raises concerns about their health.”

Isle of Wight NHS Trust has been asked for comment.

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