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November 17, 2004

Great Moments in Socialized Medicine

Toothache Nearly Cost Me My Life

A teenager nearly died after being turned away by the NHS eight times for a simple tooth extraction.

Peter Owen needed the routine procedure to get rid of the pain from a broken tooth which became infected and led to an abscess.

But despite spending a week begging NHS Direct, his GP, a dentist and three different NHS hospitals for treatment no one was prepared to help. Meanwhile, the abscess became so swollen it began to block his windpipe - causing him almost to suffocate.

At the end of the week the 19-year-old musician, who is not registered with an NHS dentist, was taken by his worried father to hospital where he had emergency surgery to remove the abscess.

'I could have easily died'

He spent two days in intensive care after the operation and it was five more days before he was discharged. While it would have cost around £70 to take his tooth out, his week-long stay in hospital cost the NHS around £3,000.

Peter's experience highlights the acute shortage of NHS dentists and the potential risk to patients' lives. In Colwyn Bay, North Wales, where he lives, there are five dental practices but not one is accepting NHS patients.

"It's a disgrace," he said last night. "I could easily have died."

Thanks to GregS, the Internet Story Elf.


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posted by Ace at 05:17 PM

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