GPS CALL FOR £170 CARBON MONOXIDE LIFESAVER
British GPs have called for a £170 piece of equipment to be made mandatory in surgeries – with more than 90 per cent saying that breath testing devices will save lives.
With an average of 50 people dying from carbon monoxide poisoning each year, and 1,800 people attending hospital with CO poisoning symptoms in 2015, the nation’s front line medical professionals have recognised the need for speedier diagnosis of the ‘silent killer’.
Available for just £170, near-patient testing devices such as Smokerlyzers are currently used in some 22 per cent of GP surgeries for work in smoking cessation clinics. However, only one in four use them for any other purpose, such as the diagnosis of CO poisoning.
According to research of 200 GPs carried out by CORGI HomePlan, carbon monoxide awareness is low among the nation’s healthcare professionals.
Just a tiny two per cent of doctors admit they consider patients may be suffering CO poisoning as often as once a month, with 18 per cent never giving it a thought when examining a patient with the symptoms.
When it comes to spotting CO poisoning, the survey revealed that more education is clearly needed among family doctors. While a strong 85 per cent correctly identified the symptoms of headaches, dizziness, nausea, confusion and tiredness, 71 per cent failed to identify brain damage, peripheral vascular disease or depression as associated symptoms.
This is despite a large number of family practitioners confirming in the survey that they see patients with nausea, dizziness, tiredness and breathlessness regularly. 46 per cent said patients presented with those symptoms more than once a day, while a further 36 per cent said a few times a week and 14 per cent a few times a month.
Family GP Dr Helen Webberley comments: “As the first place that many patients present themselves with symptoms, it’s vital all GPs are fully armed with everything they need to recognise and diagnose carbon monoxide poisoning.
“As these symptoms can be confused with so many others, we need to ask the right questions to identify if a home appliance such as a cooker or boiler may be causing the symptoms. It is also crucial to carry out a test, and the near-patient tester will undoubtedly save many lives.”
Kevin Treanor, director of CORGI HomePlan, comments: “The CORGI name is synonymous with gas safety and we will not rest until there are no more deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning. It is such a preventable condition but four people are being treated in A&E every day. By giving GPs the tools they need to make the proper diagnosis in their surgeries, more people could be saved each year.”
CORGI HomePlan has set up a resource page online where members of the public wishing to support the doctors can write to their MPs and also download a poster of carbon monoxide facts and figures. Go to www.corgihomeplan.co.uk/gp-resource-pack.