I am wondering if anybody has used the Défenser des Droits, also known as le Médiateur de la République or simply the Ombudsman? I have looked at the role of the Défenser and followed the site through to our local delegate so that is all clear.

I have to pursue a medical issue. During my last visit to hospital in Bergerac the surgeon who saw me told my wife and I that the wrong procedure had been followed in the first two operations. He was saying that on the basis of the X-rays. The first two operation protocols are missing from the records and the original surgeon has left, so there is no explanation to why both operations were wrong procedures. I see the 'new' surgeon again next week. He has said he will try to receive the missing notes. The orthopedics administration has already told us they do not exist. Everybody has the right to have a complete dossier of original or copied notes. On the basis of the incomplete dossier I have a case to begin with.

What I am trying to find out is whether anybody has pursued a case of wrong or negligent treatment. It is difficult to begin with because nobody will 'own up' and whilst advising me, it is doubtful that the present surgeon would repeat the error to the delegate of the Défenser in order to protect the hospital and perhaps his own job. So it will be somewhat dependant on external and impartial experts to use the X-rays on the assumption the notes are not found.

I had an MRI scan last week and there are signs of a wrong procedure in nerve damage that is likely to be unrepairable, possible broken tendons and certainly capsulities which means I have to undergo a very painful orthopedic process in a while.

So, I have all the building blocks for a complaint. I am aware that the Défenser is only there to conciliate and not award compensation or anything like that, so that is not what I am tring to find out. What I am trying to find out is whether other people have experience that is in any way comparable so that I can anticipate how to pursue this and what the likely outcome might be.

Buy a sneaky recording device for this next consultation

Oh, just how wrong can they be!
Is it not the French who accept bad service and being told what to do by somebody in ‘authority’?

Sorry to hear about your problems, Brian; but you are right to 'complain for the sake of it' - it does tend to produce results. My OH found that out recently (though not in such a serious case as yours). Progress was only made by complainging loudly in front other other patients; eventually the consultant took the situation seriously, apologuiised for the error of a junior colleague, and made a clear note of the relevant information on the dossier.

Regrettably, (and very honestly) he did say that the French tend to assume that English patients will just politely give up and go away (his exact words are not to hand). Persistance pays, he said.

Do hope your problem resolves itself sooner rather than later. Meanwhile, best wishes!

Good morning. Your last point is what we have done with the new guy. Nonetheless, if he does not come up trumps, he will then become the messenger of the bad news that I am starting a Défenseur des Droits action. I am trying to transfer to Bordeaux where they have a couple of internationally reputable shoulder specialists and a research based/university group sleep clinic that deals with both epilepsy and apnoea and where a team has written, for instance, a couple of papers on how sleep apnoea has been mistaken for epilepsy in around 70% of cases, something also written about in the USA. I have several symptoms of one and no sign of the other so want it looked into, so the transfer. If that possibility is wrong then I imagine those neurologists will look for other possibilities rather than washing their hands of the matter. More time, but OK.

Dunno Terry, with a mask on I may become a little more attractive! Anyway, since whatever it is is sleep related, sleep clinic will be next anyway and then (luck on my side and all that) they'll do something. Anything is better than having seizures that make me fall out of bed a break a shoulder or any other bone (except my skull that has withstood many tests already). I don't mind what I put in my mouth, a decnt sleep would not go amiss.

Sounds right, Brian. Exactly the symptoms I had. Once diagnosed officially you can fix the problem with a CPAP (Constant Pressure Airway Provider). This involves wearing a mask at night linked to a machine that pumps air into your nose at a specified pressure which increases every time the machine detects that you have stopped breathing. I have no problem with it but others find it difficult to adapt. And it does nothing for your sex life! But anything's better than stopping breathing 30 times an hour or worse.

Yes Cate, I accept that the emergency people do not write a full protocol of treatment because they 'slap' one on the table and get on with it. But the first two operations the surgeon did are, according to the one who has taken over, in the wrong order. A plate should have been put in to hold the bone fragments in place rather than put the brushes in, then removing some of the brushes in the second op to put in a plate made no sense. That he worked out from the x-rays. He is at a loss what to say and I think he also does not want to say too much. Something is not right. The operation protocols simply appear not to exist. My wife and I have been demanding them for about three months. The orthopedics secretary has no record of them, the guy two weeks ago admitted they are missing. As it was, despite us knowing it was right to have them, early x-rays were withheld for about two months.

Now the neurologist. After an MRI and and ECG found no damage to suggest any sign of epilepsy, then did not look for any other explanation. She sent me off with a new precription moving me off Lamictal to a far lower dose of Depakine Chrono. No further appointments were suggested. Hands washed and bye-bye.

Sure medecin traitant is coordinating things and understood no more than us why records were withheld and has had no copies of certain things as he should have. He has chased them up and been told the same as us. Now he is wondwring what the neurologist is playing at since, in his view, I should now have a recommendation on to somebody else for further examination and a programme for reducing and completely finishing the medication. he tells me just stopping could give me seizures so don't risk it.

I am seeing the orthopedic surgeon again on Thursday with the MRI scan of the shoulder. The report says capsulitis, possible/probable tendonitis but no necrosis (at least). He was told to dig deep for the missing records two weeks back and if he comes up with nothing, although it is not his fault, he will be told that an action will start from the moment I arrive back home in the afternoon. Bergerac hospital has a reputation for being a black hole in the medical system and is living up to its reputation for me. We are also trying to find out if the surgeon who left was forced out or moved on. I have certainly found out that he is now in Marmande from the head nurse. Nice story, eh? But anyway, as I said to Terry, I do not believe in self diagnosis but it gives good reason for my GP to get me into the sleep clinic in Bordeaux to have a look at least, if he thinks that appropriate. It is not only upsetting but extremely annoying, my physio says the orthopedics people are talking through their backsides about how much use I have of my arm and that she feels far more muscle and tendon damage than bone, although the missing fragment of bone where the ball fits in the socket concerns her. That is good moral support from somebody physically working with me.

Brill, well not for you but in terms of info and advice. Need to see my medic and see what I can sort for me to do about. All the right (sic) symptoms like xerosomia, falling asleep in the daytime at the drop of a hat, loud heavy snoring interrupted by pauses and gasps and waking up a lot during the night amongst them. My friend e-mailed back in less than 10 minutes, looking at med-literature I am not surprised but do not like self-diagnosis so time for yet another specialist!

I have sleep apnoea. Brian, so if you need info, let me know.

Danke schön, old German commonplace expression :)

E-mailing a friend at WHO who is a medic working with AIDS, thought back to his general practice days in Canda and suggested I get somebody to look for apnoea - I have four distinct symptoms in his view. he more or less replied illegitimi non carborundum, although he said 'the barstewards will try to grind you down, but kick back'. Another battle for another day.

Courage, mon pote. Nil carborundum -- the motto of a wise old Reuters World Desk sub!

In short, it is all designed to our disadvantage. Surprise, surprise! Oh well, if need be I shall complain for the sake of complaining just to show the hospital I am not taking their mistakes sitting down.

You can also wait for up to three years for a medical insurance claim in the UK. This is to give injuries time to heal and see what exactly are the state of your injuries after that time. It is assuMed that you will not make much more progress at the end of that three year period
Thank goodness that they don’t take into account what my Reiki did to help my neck after I had a serious car crash.

Thanks Terry, yes been there. It's the thought that counts.

Dr Flurin, at the sports clinic in Bordeaux, is one of the top half dozen in the world. Problem is, he is private and expensive, plus his waiting lists are monumental. I have seen him once, but he said it was to early for him to do anything since bones were just reconsoldating. That has happened and so action is possible, esepcially after last week's scan. Now is when I need treatment, not in a year. However, I don't mind how long the action against the hospital takes, because I am prepared for a couple of years already.

Knowing you, Brian, I sure you've already been here and here but thought I'd just dot the i's and cross the t's.

Apart from that, I have no experience of this kind of thing but I do know a very good orthopaedic surgeon who specialises in shoulders and he has colleagues who specialise in hands, knees etc (but perhaps not bumps-a-daisy!). Unfortunately he's in Clermont Ferrand so probably no help to you.

I do hope it all gets sorted both medically and legally and you recover full use of your shoulder.

The equivalent of a Patient's Association is a local panel who rarely acheive or advise much. So I am not bothering.

Yea, I have the rique juridique - thank grace. However the legal route is subject to minium of a three year wait for civil actions - luckily we have a local lawyer as a friend who warned against that too.

Through a friend, we have contact to our congressman so might go to the ombudsman that way. However, it is all time...

Hope yours works out well. It seems to be so tedious doing these things but if people don't health systems get away with murder, sometimes literally, so we must do it.

I am sorry to hear all this Brian, perhaps there is the French equivalent of a Patients' Association who may be able to advise you?

Alternatively, do you have a Risques Juridique policy? I know you have a Mutuelle!

Thinking about that, perhas the Mutuelle will be interested, because you are having to undergo extra treatment which they will have to pay for.

This is not what you needed to hear and, perhaps, as it seems likely that you may have long term damage, perhaps a legal route would be the way to go.

I do hope that someone else will be able to give you the correct advice, but we are thinking of you.

My case against the CPAM has now been passed to the FCO and my ex MEP is pursuing through the Commission, although I am sure nothing will be achieved in August.