A b12 serum level can’t tell you how a patient is feeling, only the patient can, but why is no one listening?

Is your doctor allowing you to sink or swim?

How are you feeling? Are your symptoms improving? Do you need more frequent B12 injections……? These questions are very rarely asked of B12 deficient patients regarding their treatment. Too many patients remain ‘seen’ but not heard. Never heard.

Why has the medical establishment become so averse to listening to B12 deficient patients?  To treating symptoms and to acknowledging this fundamental nutritional requirement?  Why are we not offered the same listening ear as those with other conditions might be?

The patient is ALWAYS the expert on how they are feeling, not some serum B12 level or any maintenance guidelines which bear no relationship to the patient experience.

lifeboy-b12

Loss of a great relationship  

Any visit to the doctors can be an ordeal. You may be feeling, vulnerable, tearful, in pain, stressed, anxious and not wanting to waste the doctor’s time. But, the incredibly healing benefit of just ten minutes of really being heard, experiencing kindness and compassion and having a plan of action, is profound. We leave knowing our doctor is trying to help us. That ten minutes being reassured and cared for creates a phenomenal level of trust.

B12 deficient patients, in many cases, experience a completely different relationship with their doctor when requesting an increased frequency of B12 injections, finding that a couple of weeks after their injection their debilitating symptoms are back with a vengeance.

The very same Doctor who helped them through rough times, cared for them through pregnancy or trauma can become distant, defensive, unfeeling and even angry.  It’s as if an invisible wall is built,  eye contact is limited, and communication is almost strangulated. The usual empathy may be replaced by flippant, incorrect comments about B12 being a placebo, that B12 deficiency is ‘over diagnosed’ that people want too much, get addicted to it and that there is no evidence to suggest that it actually makes a difference! 

There’s an inability on the part of some GP’s to demonstrate compassion or understanding for a patient who is struggling to function on three monthly injections. The current situation means that some patients are able to function for only 8 weeks out of 52.  Many GP’s are refusing to treat symptoms, whilst concern with B12 serum blood levels takes precedence over common sense. Ignoring how the patient feels can lead to feelings of confusion, anger, desperation, and fear. What are they supposed to do?

Patient’s who are in pain, exhausted and confused need more B12, not less – but this fact is not understood by those who should be caring for us.

This ‘new’ attitude from the GP may cause fractures in, or even a complete death of their previous good relationship. For those patients who feel they’ve upset their doctor by asking for more B12 or who fail to articulate what they need it may mean that they will try to struggle on alone. This is a shocking and intolerable situation for a patient who previously had an excellent relationship with someone they completely trusted to care for them.

What usually happens in the UK ….

In the main GPs prescribe loading doses (6 injections over two weeks) and then automatically place patients onto three monthly injection regime regardless of the severity of their symptoms. This is very often done without discussion with the patient – in fact without any kind of consultation whatsoever. It might be a nurse who delivers this information and who sticks rigidly to the exact date three months later for the next injection. It is not uncommon for patients who try to have their injection a couple of days early only to be turned away distraught.

This situation can leave the patient bewildered about why their inexpensive injections are rationed, knowing their lack can cause widespread, permanent damage. This condition is so simple and easy to treat but B12 is withheld due to lack of education.

Patients restricted to 3 monthly injections are commonly offered strong painkillers, Gabapentin, amitriptyline, and other antidepressants, all manner of symptom modifying drugs in place of the vitamin needed to repair their nerves.  There’s something seriously wrong when a GP insists on exploring dementia in a symptomatic patient in their 40’s, rather than treating a B12 level which is just within range.

Retesting serum levels

Once a patient is being treated with B12 injections, it does make sense to check the serum B12 level in the beginning to confirm that the patient is responding to treatment. If there is a good response then no further testing is required. Continual retesting of serum levels prior to an injection (and in some cases just a few days after) is a total waste of time and money and it’s clear that some GP’s are mistakenly using a ‘within range’ result as a reason to stop B12 injections.

The sole reliance on B12 serum levels to decide whether a patient is well or not is entirely illogical given that many patients with a B12 level up in the 1000’s may still be experiencing incredibly painful and debilitating symptoms. They may be suffering from a failing memory, an inability to walk, to stay awake and terrible anxiety.

A high serum B12 level post injection is not showing any toxicity, it is also no indication of the level of nerve repair but repeatedly patients are told:

‘your levels are too high’,
‘we need to stop your injections until they come back down’
‘you no longer need B12……..’

There is a genetic problem which is thankfully highlighted by the NHS – ‘functional B12 deficiency,’  it would be helpful if our GP’s were all made aware of this;

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Anaemia-vitamin-B12-and-folate-deficiency/Pages/Causes.aspx 

‘Some people can experience problems related to a vitamin B12 deficiency, despite appearing to have normal levels of vitamin B12 in their blood. This can occur due to a problem known as functional vitamin B12 deficiency – where there is a problem with the proteins that help transport vitamin B12 between cells. This results in neurological complications involving the spinal cord’.

B12 is a water-soluble vitamin, the vast majority of the injection is excreted via the bowel and bladder within 24 hours. B12 has to be replaced frequently in order to aid recovery of the myelin sheath. Serum levels can remain high for up to four months, this does not mean there is an accessible reservoir of B12 sloshing around the body.

If your GP or nurse continually suggest retesting your B12 levels, ask why? And feel free to refuse unless there is any clinical need. You will be saving your blood and your time and that of your practice too.

• A very high serum B12 level without any supplementation obviously requires investigation and I often wonder if this is where our GP’s are getting mixed up?

Superior treatment for other conditions, a stark contrast 

If you are a diabetic patient, the overwhelming difference in the level of care is plain to see. You will be checked, monitored, consulted. You’ll have regular retinopathy and foot checks. You may be assigned a specialist diabetic nurse and you will be asked how you feel.

You will not have restricted medication, you will be taught and trusted to self inject, and you may even be sent on courses to learn about your condition.

In stark contrast, the majority of B12 deficient patients are discriminated against whilst requiring exactly the same care. All clinicians need to grasp the fact that B12 deficiency is a real and serious condition.

One size treatment cannot possibly fit all

As many of us know and feel keenly, four injections per year cannot correct the body’s starvation of B12, just as only four buckets of water a year wouldn’t help a tree in drought and only four breaths of air wouldn’t help a deep sea diver. One size cannot possibly fit all for many medical treatments.

Reports of widespread pain, poor memory, poor mental health, balance problems, deafening tinnitus, fatigue, and incontinence are totally ignored as if the patient is totally mistaken about the state of their own health. If they happen to have existing diagnoses of fibromyalgia, depression, CFS, diabetes (etc) or they’re menopausal or even a new mum – their symptoms may be attributed to these conditions instead of being recognised as under treatment of B12 deficiency.

B12 injections are safe, life saving, non-toxic and inexpensive. There is no clinical evidence for this restricted regime, it is entirely based upon cost saving audits.

Bizarre letters stop B12 treatment

You can see the situation which affects so many patients from this letter below. These letters which stop vital B12 treatment, are randomly sent out and are expected to be met with compliance despite the fact that without any solid evidence or consultation, it has been decided the patient can miraculously absorb and utilise B12.

tracey letter

The statement “Evidence has come to light that in many cases B12 injections are given too easily, or are inadvertently continued after the loading dose injections.” is ludicrous.

I hope that recipients of these letters ask to see the source of this ‘evidence’ and I wonder what it is. The idea that B12 injections are ‘given too easily’ is a bizarre comment given that so many patients probably feel that completing the Krypton Factor, running ten miles through quicksand whilst wearing high heels two sizes too small, might be an easier challenge than ‘qualifying’ for an essential vitamin injection.

There may be some odd formula for sending out these letters – there is no clue as to why this practice have decided the patients can now absorb B12, what test they used. Perhaps a mistaken reliance upon post injection serum B12 levels to determine that patients have enough B12 and are now ‘cured’ – perhaps even picking names out of a hat?

They state “we need to prove that people cannot absorb the carrier across the stomach membrane.”  The sentence itself doesn’t make sense. What is the ‘carrier’? Do they really believe that by simply telling the patient “You are one of a cohort of patients who have been tested and should be able to absorb B12” the job is done?  They are placing the onus on the patient to prove they can’t absorb B12 without any discussion whatsoever.

There seems to be a movement towards only treating patients who are confirmed to have pernicious anaemia, (this may be what this letter is about). This is totally ridiculous given the many causes for B12 deficiency. Each is serious and each requires treatment by injection unless the deficiency is of proven dietary lack. The reality is that the test for pernicious anaemia (Intrinsic Factor antibody) has low sensitivity resulting in many false negatives. This information escapes too many GP’s.

The sad fact is that some who receive these letters will believe what is written – or may not have the strength to fight for their health.

Deterioration caused by B12 deficiency is slow and insidious, it takes a while to repair the fatty coating of the nerves (myelin sheath). Six injections over two weeks cannot possibly reverse all the damage in every patient even though we all wish they could.

Me and millions of others would be ecstatic to find that suddenly we really could absorb B12 simply because we received a letter saying so – but this letter and all the others like it are complete poppycock, not to mention harmful. As usual in B12 deficiency, the PATIENT IS NEVER CONSULTED, everything is decided without their input.

Oral supplementation for patients who cannot absorb B12 from food would be a futile exercise. We urgently need our clinicians to understand that this can lead to permanent neurological damage, raising serum levels but allowing deterioration to continue.

This letter states that: “If you are taking folic acid then it’s important to take vitamin B supplement to prevent damage” the author is apparently ignorant of the harm that will follow without B12 injections.

The one sensible statement included in the letter is that vitamin B12 “is water soluble and therefore not dangerous to take in excess,” very refreshing.

It is vital that all primary care doctors, nurses ,midwives and specialists in all areas of medicine are educated about the seriousness of B12 deficiency and the fundamentals of nutrition.

If our doctors are unable to feel that they can take clinical responsibility for frequent B12 injections (even though this is what is stated in both BNF and NICE Guidelines) then it becomes even more urgent that UK patients are able to buy injectable B12 over the counter in order to look after their own health.

Isolation and hopelessness

There are many things that patients who are B12 deficient can’t understand about the way they are treated once they become diagnosed with vitamin B12 deficiency.

Of course some doctors do treat their patients correctly and fully support individualised treatment. For the rest, B12 is restricted and the battle for treatment begins in those who have the strength and/or the support of loved ones.

Some patients believe their GP is correct when told that too much B12 would be harmful.  Others feel forced to accept the situation because their partner or family member insists the GP must know best, finding themselves totally isolated and without hope.

Nobody wants to have to fight for health especially when they are on their knees, mentally and physically.

If you are a patient who needs more B12 and face the challenge of requesting this, taking somebody with you to the doctors for support can be invaluable. Just a squeeze of a hand and reassurance that you are not alone can make the world of difference when trying to communicate how you feel in pleading your case. Writing down what you need to say will help you to remember all your points. The NHS constitution may be a useful tool to help in accessing better treatment for UK readers.

The very least a patient can expect is to be listened to and taken seriously. Ensuring that this happens would make the job of the GP easier and their overall workload lighter, saving the NHS millions. It would be interesting to know just how many appointments are taken up by undiagnosed or under treated B12 deficient patients. Now there’s a research project worth carrying out.

Are you in a situation where you are not being heard and feel isolated? Please don’t give up, join this fantastic support group where you will find help from so many members in the same boat.

REMEMBER this is your life, your health and YOU MATTER. You are the expert on how YOU feel, no one else.

Are you a doctor reading this, do you know how we feel?

How would you cope with your job, family, home if for  only 44 weeks out of 52 you were unable to function? Can you give us your side of the story? Anonymously?

If you can, please email in confidence to tracey@b12deficiency.info.

www.b12deficiency.info Twitter – @B12info Facebook

 

B12 the Antidote – joining up the dots

We may be exposed to poisonous gases and chemical toxins to different degrees at some point in our lives, whether it be from air pollution, exhaust fumes, pesticides, cleaning products or from faulty or poorly fitted appliances within our homes or workplaces.  Flood, fire and warfare are all situations where potential exposure to toxic gases can occur.

However, B12 in the form of hydroxocobalamin is an excellent toxin scavenger, this means that if you are exposed your levels of B12 could be inactivated and depleted.

Could you be an unknowing victim? Do you have diagnosis of CFS, ME, fibromyalgia, depression, Alzheimer’s and have not had thorough screening for B12 deficiency?

Late last year I met Belinda Goldsmid, she and her family were chronically exposed to products of combustion, including carbon monoxide (CO). It was leaking into their home from a poorly installed and situated boiler flue. This had devastating health and social effects. Continual low level exposure can can lead to chronic ill-health, poor mental health and extremely debilitating symptoms.
Belinda is now experiencing phenomenal improvement of her previous debilitating symptoms with the use of B12 (hydroxocobalamin) injections. Following this, Belinda asked for my help in finding research papers documenting the use of B12 as a treatment for toxic exposure, including the silent killer carbon monoxide.

Maybe the origin or the exacerbation of your B12 deficiency can be traced back to toxic exposure?

For more information please see our new page, www.b12deficiency.info/b12-the-antidote

Belinda was helped by the charity CO Gas Safety, you can find more CO charities here.

If you think you might be B12 deficient the What to do next page is your starting point.

If you want to learn more about B12 direct from Sally Pacholok please see our Conference page

 

UK B12 deficient patients, paltry 3 monthly maintenance dose of B12 injections is based on cash not care!

The question you will be asking of your GP after reading this is ‘show me the proof that 3 monthly injections are all I need’.

The biggest problem B12 deficient patients face once they’ve achieved a diagnosis is desperate under treatment. Our maintenance dose is listed in the NICE Guidelines ‘with neurological involvement’ at two monthly intervals and without at three monthly intervals. Unfortunately many doctors do not take into account neurological symptoms and the patient is automatically placed onto a three monthly maintenance dose of B12 injections after loading doses.

Vitamin B12 is water soluble. The rate of excretion is fast, there is no internal cupboard where we can pop a bit by for a rainy day. If we are lucky and our mother had a good supply of B12, we would be born with a store, but this eventually runs out or stops being accessible for many reasons.

Our maintenance dosage is based upon cost saving exercises and absolutely no care for the patient. Isn’t it time for a change in this old way of thinking?

The fact is that GP audits (and no clinical evidence or patient involvement of any kind) eventually made three monthly injections the ‘optimal’ maintenance dose of B12. These were purely designed to save money and had nothing to do with patient care, this situation needs an urgent overhaul.

It appears that without correct analysis, observation or consultation with patients many of our doctors truly believe we only need four injections a year because this is what has been repeatedly presented to them.

The content of these audits which I detail below, have become an intractable belief and have been cited by later research which then further eroded any good common sense. Worse still, other countries cite UK GP audits in order to back up rationed treatment for their patients too!

There would rightly, be an almighty uproar if every anaemic patient were told that they needed exactly the same amount of iron only 4 times per year, and all diabetic patients were told they need the same dose of insulin quarterly? Surely we’d think it crazy if it was suddenly decided that just 4 doses of vitamin C a year cured scurvy?

This post tries to detail how our three monthly injection regime was arrived at from  the first study and the following three GP audits.

This whole sorry tale below leaves patients without proper care and vital treatment and seemingly ties the hands of doctors.

None of the Marketing Authorisation Holders in the UK use any clinical evidence for ‘optimal dosage of 3 monthly treatment’ and base the information written in their Patient Information Leaflet’ upon BNF Guidelines and the Martindale Drug Reference book. Public Health England, NHS England and NICE have not been able to provide any clinical evidence either.

This is what the BNF said –

Thank you for your email to BNF Publications. 

Unfortunately we are unable to access our archives to check what evidence base was used to determine the 3 monthly dosage of hydroxocobalamin. 

BNF content will be reviewed in line with the SPCs for future updates of the BNF.

Rather like saying ‘the dog ate my homework’ don’t you agree?

No common sense has been applied in these audits and yet people adding their names to these are highly educated. When have patient voices ever been heard and acted upon in B12 deficiency?

• The first paper you see is from 1971 this discusses excessive prescription of B12 and seeks to ‘standardise B12 treatment’.  Like that would ever be appropriate!

• The next report in 1983 carried out in by a Leicester GP training practice. This decides that monthly B12 injections should move to ‘optimal’ 2 monthly frequency. It sets narrow and flawed diagnostic criteria and unfortunately set the tone for the following GP audits and it still largely influences diagnosis today.

• In 1985 a further study from Coventry was published titled ‘B12 injections: considerable source of work the district nurse’ this report tries to address the change from cyanocobalamin to hydroxocobalamin and just 2 years later decided that optimal B12 treatment is three monthly.

• The final audit took place in 1995 again in Leicestershire and this report used the same flawed diagnostic criteria and further reinforced the mad idea that humans only need vital B12 four times a year.

These repeated audits did not allow for GP’s to treat patients as individuals.

None of it is based on science or any clinical evidence – it’s based on pounds. The patients were dictated to, never consulted and neither were the nurses who administered B12 injections.

I have split this post into the four different reports and have highlighted extracts to demonstrate just how ridiculous and harmful they are;


First you will see a report from 1971 that in a study on excessive prescribing, B12 treatment was singled out, possibly due to the idea that GP’s were giving patients B12 injections, willy nilly as a ‘tonic’.

To see the full text follow this link – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC478645/pdf/brjprevsmed00003-0029.pdf

I have chosen some parts to highlight below;

1971 Expected and Observed Values for the Prescription of vitamin B12 in England and Wales

A.L. Cochrane and F Moore M.R.C. Epidemiological Research Unit

(For your info – Epidemiology is the study of how often diseases occur in different groups of people and whyEpidemiological information is used to plan and evaluate strategies to prevent illness and as a guide to the management of patients in whom disease has already developed. – I add this meaning since the study below and the following audits, had the very opposite effect on preventing illness in B12 deficient patients.)

This report states;

There is considerable literature about the oddities of the prescribing habits of British doctors, the factors influencing them, and the attitudes of doctors to prescription, but there have been as far as we know, no attempts to compare quantitatively the expected amount prescribed, on the basis of good clinical practice, with that actually prescribed. There are in general three reasons for this ignorance of the prevalence of common diseases, the lack of specificity of particular drugs for particular diseases, and the lack of standardisation of therapy. Such a study requires a drug which is practically specific for one condition whose prevalence is known, and the one which approximates most closely to this appears to be vitamin B12. We should like to stress that B12 was selected for these purely epidemiological considerations and with no malice aforethought. This paper describes an attempt to measure the expected and observed values for the prescription of B12 in England and Wales for the year 1966.

Can we really expect that any B12 therapy can be totally standardised? Aren’t all humans different? Aren’t the severity and the variety of symptoms different in each patient? The length of time the ‘illness’ has progressed undetected surely would be taken into account if logic were applied?

Isn’t the statement ….’with no malice aforethought’ akin to saying I don’t wish to be rude, but….’

Why make a point of such a statement when the irony is that the whole study is designed to cut down on perceived (and not scientifically backed up) ‘excess’ treatment which served to harm patients and did not, by any stretch of the imagination – ‘prevent illness’?

Estimates for observed Prescriptions for parenteral B12

……It is clear that there is a considerable excess of observed over expected.

Reasons for Excessive prescription

a survey of the prescribing habits of a 2000 random sample of general practitioners in England and Wales in 1967 showed that 33% of all prescriptions for cyanocobalamin and hydroxocobalamin in 1967  were for conditions other than ‘pernicious anaemia and other hypochromic anaemias… 

Discussion

We are very conscious of the imperfections of our data……..We are also aware in retrospect that 1966 was not a good year to choose as it was a period of change in ideas about the correct dosage of B12 for pernicious anaemia……
………we still however believe our exercise to have been worthwhile as it has shown how substantial financial saving could be made at no cost to health and a considerable saving of inconvenience to patients, doctors, and nurses.

Is it really an inconvenience to the patient to have a life-saving injection at the correct frequency for them? We don’t think so. But of course by not giving injections money was indeed saved.

No B12 deficient patient wants to have more injections than they need, they simply want a frequency that keeps them well and completely able to function. It has always been a very small price to pay in the grand scheme of things. It would be an even smaller price to pay if;
a – patients were taught to self inject
b – we could buy injectable B12 OTC


This paper from 1983 focuses on pernicious anaemia rather than the many other causes of B12 deficiency, much like today, patients who do not have a definitive diagnosis of PA are considered to be in need of less treatment (or none at all) despite the severity of symptoms being exactly the same.

1983 BMJ Practice Observed Volume 287 –
Audit of the use of Vitamin B12 in general practice.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1549043/pdf/bmjcred00570-0031a.pdf

.……It has been shown that the observed use of vitamin B12 in general practice in England and Wales greatly exceeds its expected use and that it is widely prescribed by general practitioners for non-specific indications. Further evidence suggests the need to rationalise the use of vitamin be 12 in general practice.

…… The aims of the study were (1) To examine the present use of vitamin B12 in our practice and (2) To achieve a more appropriate and efficient use of it.

Method
……..The medical records (FP5,6) of all the patients were then reviewed to identify reasons for the use of B12 and the extent to which diagnostic criteria were established and appropriate management and follow up undertaken. ….. The results of the initial data collection were then presented to all the partners at a practice meeting. All the doctors agreed to change to the criteria identified by the authors, the practice nurses were advised accordingly, and a follow-up collection of data was undertaken.
In all cases where changes in treatment or management or both were introduced the patients received both written and verbal explanations from the practice doctors or nurses or both.

Note that the patients are not consulted they are just dictated to. I wouldn’t mind betting that some of the GP’s and nurses were concerned at this change in treatment being imposed upon them. Note that the nurses ‘were advised accordingly’ rather than being asked their professional opinion as the frontline workers.

Setting standards

In setting standards we decided that our criteria should be explicit – that is, identified before collecting evidence of performance – and that our criteria should be appropriate for British general practice, safe, realistic, and achievable.  In arriving at our criteria we consulted three standard textbooks of medicine (Alstead, Davidson and Price), a consultant haematologist, the librarian at the Royal College of General Practitioners, and the Monthly Index of Medical Specialities.

The following standards were set;

(1) Criteria for the use of vitamin B12
(a) approved value in the treatment of pernicious anaemia only (other conditions are very rare in British general practice).
(b) May be necessary prophylacticly after surgery – four example gastrectomy, resection of the terminal ileum.

For all the good their method of ‘arriving at our criteria’ did for patients, they might just as well have consulted the butcher the baker and the candlestick maker. Note they didn’t consult a psychiatrist despite the link between low B12 and poor mental health being discovered over a hundred years ago.

This reduced regime did not make anything ‘safe’ for patients. In fact it served to  make the situation dire.

This intervention took away the GP’s chance to use deductive reasoning, to draw on experience of the past, to treat the person and not the ‘numbers’. It completely and firmly made treatment of B12 deficiency ‘one size fits all’ and woe betide anyone who does not toe the line. This is why the situation for patients still remains in a sorry state today.

As I said before PA is still thought to be the primary culprit here, other causes of B12 deficiency such as malabsorption caused by metformin, H2 blockers, PPI’s, parasites, etc. are completely ignored due to lack of knowledge.

The prevalence of PA against other causes of B12 deficiency these days is diminished. The genetic problems associated with B12 deficiency are not widely understood amongst health professionals despite their effect on a huge percentage of the population.

(2) Diagnostic criteria for pernicious anaemiathere must be
laboratory evidence of
(a) macrocytic anaemia;
(b) a low serum concentration of vitamin B12 with a normal folate concentration;
(c) a reticulocyte response to B12 treatment.

• All the criteria is based on blood values. We know that macrocytosis is a very, very late stage of B12 deficiency and that severely deficient patients may not present with this sign, the administration of folic acid also masks macrocytosis by normalising the size of the blood cells. Some GP’s still adhere to this criteria and NICE Guidelines bizarrely reinforce it for patients diagnosed with CFS and ME too. Quite ridiculous.

• Why on earth would any one with half a brain think that a high or a low folate concentration negates the need for B12 when the serum B12 level is low?

• We also know that the serum B12 test is inaccurate and cannot tell us what is happening at a cellular level. Using a serum B12 test in a patient on B12 injections to confirm ‘B12 levels are replete’ is incorrect, but it happens. Too many patients have their injections stopped because the doctor thinks they are cured once serum levels are above the low reference range. Unless the cause of B12 deficiency is temporary i.e. parasitic infestation which has been eradicated then treatment will be for life.

(3) Treatment and management Criteria – The optimum dosage is 1000 µg at intervals of eight weeks.

We need frequent B12 in order to keep brain and body healthy. For many patients today this frequency however, would be a miracle.

Results – (Be warned this is a tiny study!)
• 31 patients were in the study, 21 were women, 19 of them were over 65 years old.
• 22 patients (73%) were being treated for PA
• 5 were being treated post surgery.
• 1 for multiple sclerosis
• 2 for diabetes mellitus
• 1 for ‘no discernible reason’

In the interval between the two data collection dates 11 patients had died or left the practice, this included both patients with diabetes.

I wonder what these patients had recorded as cause of death? Of course we can’t know if this imposed reduced frequency had any impact however the word ‘pernicious’ springs to mind.

Vitamin B12 injections had been stopped for the patient with no discernible indications but the person with MS continued to have injections as she had become dependant on them.

Oh dear. Many severely deficient patients today would have ‘no discernible indications’ based on the sketchy criteria used in this survey and absolutely no comprehension of the ‘need’ of the MS patient, rather that she is ‘dependant on them’!

‘In all, in 17 patients injection frequency changed between the two surveys. 

Discussion

We make no claim to have identified definitive an immutable criteria for the use of vitamin B12 in general practice. We believe, however, that the standards that we set for ourselves are not only realistic and achievable but also reasonably reflect the current state of knowledge. We could discover no evidence to suggest that vitamin B12 having effective therapeutic role be on the correction of a specific or potential vitamin B12 deficiency state.

They certainly expected this criteria to be immutable though! The ‘current sate of knowledge‘ has moved on in 30 odd years and yet B12 ‘maintenance dose’ has since worsened.

…. A substantial and necessary reduction in the high number of injections of B12 administered to the patient was also brought about. The average number of injections per patient per year was almost halved 12.7-6.9 by greatly increasing the proportion of patients receiving injections at two monthly intervals 13%-84% the resulting savings in the cost of drugs and syringes, for example, are self evident and enabled nursing staff to devote the time saved to more important activities such as routine monitoring of patients blood pressures.

So this audit achieved its goal, life saving B12 injections were cut, at this point, from monthly to one injection every two months. They saved some cash on syringes and the nurses got to do ‘more important activities‘  – they did routine monitoring of blood pressure. Now I am no medic and although I know that monitoring blood pressure has its merit, but if we were to ask the simple question of ANYONE –‘What’s more important, is it (a) a routine blood pressure check or (b) a life saving injection? I think we can safely say the overwhelming answer would be (b).

In changing the frequency of the patient’s treatment regimens and we were conscious that we were disturbing what for many had become a regular part of their lives, often over many years. We had previously agreed that if any patient show distress at the prospect their current regimen should be continued. In the event no problems were encountered and no increase in consultation rates and ensued. This may have been due to the detailed explanations given to the patients, who were also reassured that no recorded instances of relapse had occurred in a two monthly schedule of injections.

‘No problems were encountered’ – ‘detailed explanations given to the patient’  I’d love to know what these detailed explanations involved. The problem is that patients don’t want to argue with doctors, they don’t want to challenge what they have been advised, they think ‘doctor knows best’.  The majority of patients may well have suffered in silence. REMEMBER there were only 20 patients alive at this point, probably barely alive and unable to cause problems!

Conclusion

… By collecting objective evidence of our use of vitamin B12 the differences between the medical care that we assumed we were providing and the care that we were actually providing we are made of this. This stimulated changes in Doctor behaviour and lead to improvements in our standards of clinical practice and patient care. Furthermore, all doctors agreed to follow the criteria identified in our future use of vitamin B12.

So the conclusion meant that the 2 monthly regime was solidified, the doctors who were previously prescribing to patient need, probably had their wrists slapped for not putting cost first. It also ‘fixed’ the terribly narrow diagnostic criteria.


Tragically this next audit published in 1985 only two years later, makes things a whole lot worse ; –

Putting money before health is a complete disgrace especially when, with a little lateral thinking, there was a perfect alternative solution to ‘the considerable source of work for the district nurse’ detailed below. Instead of teaching the patient/a family member to self treat they decided to just cut  the injection frequency and to hell with the consequences!

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1549043/pdf/bmjcred00570-0031a.pdf

Vitamin B12 injections: considerable source of work for the district nurse 

It’s title should really be ‘arbitrary rationing of B12 injections’.

Abstract

Between June and September 1984, district nurses who worked in Coventry were asked to submit returns giving details of the patients for whom they administered vitamin B12 injections. Of 492 patients identified, 382 (78%) were receiving injections more frequently than the recommended three monthly dose of hydroxocobalamin. And extra 3751 injections were being administered a year. Four hundred and thirty (88%) of these patients have conditions for which the drug is a proven benefit, so the increased frequency of injections accounts for most of the observed excess. A total of 200o hours a year district nurse time is spent with these patients. The nursing services under increasing strain. Changes in vitamin B12 prescribing alone could make between 600 and 1470 hours available for other patient needs.

In the main this audit is trying to address the move from administration of monthly cyanocobalamin to three monthly hydroxocobalamin. Again there appears to be no clinical evidence for such bold statements.

This audit also uses the same flawed diagnostic criteria used in the Leicester study.

Introduction

…..Only a three monthly dose is needed.” It is therefore more convenient for the patient and cheaper by dosage regimen and in the time required of nursing staff to administer injections.

So now, just two years later we have moved to 3 monthly injections – WHY?!

In order to arrive at these treatment regimes you’d think they would have asked and recorded how hundreds of patients felt on this frankly, woefully inadequate level of B12 supplementation, but they didn’t.

Where exactly is the patient centred, solid, qualitative, peer-reviewed research from back when this ridiculously illogical idea originated? NOWHERE.

There is no proof that ‘optimal treatment’ for all UK patient’s is four B12 injections per year and there never will be. FACT.

This study below, published in 1967 carried out trials to determine how long cyanocobalamin and hydroxocobalamin B12 injections lasted before excretion in urine but you can see from their summary that it would be unreliable to assume that one size fits all.

Patient Variation in Pernicious Anaemia, as Shown in a Clinical Trial of Cyanocobalamin, Hydroxocobalamin and Cyanocobalamin–Zinc Tannate
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2141.1967.tb08734.x/abstract

 Variation between patients makes it impossible to anticipate the duration of effect of a single injection of one of these drugs in any patient.

B12 is a complex vitamin, it does amazing work in the body, but it can’t miraculously eek itself out over 3 months, it is excreted quickly as is the nature of all water soluble vitamins. This fact doesn’t change just because someone, somewhere wrote down that we only need four injections a year in an attempt to try to balance the books.

Psychological dependence is often mentioned as a reason for more frequent dosage. Fraser et al, however, reported no resistance by patients to reducing the frequency of their injections. Careful explanation was sufficient reassurance that there would be no untoward effects.

How patronising to dictate such a thing to patients. ‘Placebo’ or ‘somataform‘ are words often used when trying to persuade a patient that they have no need for B12 injections despite the fact they can’t walk or think or breathe without them.

Pressure on district nursing services in Coventry means that there is rationing by decreasing the time available to each patient and by longer patient waiting times. Optimising treatment should be a more acceptable means of rationing.

The word rationing tells us what is really going on here

Even if treatment for such conditions was given “ideally” the saving would be roughly only 18 hours per nurse a year. This is a small absolute amount for an initially understaffed group who cope with an expanding elderly population as well as the consequences of changes in hospital practice. Allied to other improvements in the use of the district nurse’s time it might contribute to appreciable savings.

Money Money Money.

This last paragraph was clearly not kept in mind when decisions on cost saving were made;

District nurses are respected and trusted members of the community health services. Their role in supporting elderly people in their own homes and in preventing handicap is largely undervalued -and unmeasured. Overall, costs for the population of patients in this study are about £18,000 a year. For patients with proven indications for vitamin B12 supplements this represents roughly £42 a year each. In times of high technology medicine and economic appraisal of health care this is a small cost indeed “to save a life.

Remember – they state ‘proven indications’- based on flawed criteria used but the authors here know that B12 injections save lives. The fact is that the frequency of one injection every three months means that the quality of life for many patients is considerably compromised by gross under treatment.

These audits and no doubt countless associated studies, have encouraged GP’s to reduce the number of B12 injections and in some cases stop them altogether. This is harmful, but they think IT SAVES MONEY. Only it doesn’t really does it?

These patients who do not fit the criteria but who remain undiagnosed B12 deficient patients become very expensive for the NHS to look after. Without B12 supplementation, their deterioration may have meant and still means that they would be subjected to countless pricey investigations, scans and procedures, visits to psychiatrists, neurologists, gastroenterologists, and other ologists.

These audits NEVER advise that they will monitor and record the effect on the patient by asking how they feel – only that they may look at blood levels annually, odd isn’t it?

There may well be some patients who feel they do fine on 4 injections per year (or don’t want to say otherwise) – however those patients don’t write to me or join support groups. The point is we are all different. ONE SIZE FITS ALL cannot ever be possible in this situation?


A further nail in the coffin came in another later audit carried out in Leicestershire in 1995.

The message is clear – ‘you are giving too many patients B12 too often. Stop the patients who you don’t think need B12 from having it and those that may need it make them wait a few more weeks. If they whine give them some but tell them they don’t need it, it’s just that they have become dependent upon it’. In a nutshell this is how all the audits worked. They have successfully saved money and harmed patients with no basis of clinical evidence.

http://www.bmj.com/content/311/6996/28

General Practice
Use of vitamin B-12 in Leicestershire practices: a single topic audit led by a medical audit advisory group

I have highlighted key points below but to read full text please use the link above.

Abstract Objectives: To encourage active participation of Leicestershire general practitioners and their staff in audit; to examine the use of vitamin B-12 injections and to achieve a more appropriate use.

Setting: All 147 Leicestershire practices.

Main outcome measures: Participation in the complete audit cycle, comparison of actual use of vitamin B-12 injections with agreed criteria of use, and assessment of improvement in use.

Results:  In total 1714 patients received B-12 injections. Appropriate use increased from 62% in phase 1 to 72% in phase 2 of the audit; there was a 32% reduction in the number of patients inappropriately receiving B-12 (521 to 352), and the proportion of patients receiving B-12 at the correct frequency rose from 58% to 72%.

Conclusion: Our study suggests that single topic audits organised by a medical audit advisory group can encourage large numbers of general practitioners to participate and can bring about changes in behaviour resulting in improvements in standards of care…..

The specific aims were, firstly, to examine the use of vitamin B12 injections in all the Leicestershire practices; and, secondly, to achieve more appropriate and efficient use.

Criteria for treatment and management

• Optimum maintenance dose is 1000 µg at intervals of 12 weeks

• Follow-up annual blood count is required to avoid relapse

You see the obsession with blood values and yet no instruction to listen to patients, some of whom relapse only a matter of days post injection.

Results

…..There was a 32% reduction in the number of patients receiving B12 for non-valid reasons (from 521 to 352). 

….. This study is the most extensive assessment of the use of vitamin B12 in general practice yet reported. It has confirmed the findings are previously that B12 is still used inappropriately.

Nevertheless involvement in the audit stimulate a considerable change in behaviour among participating doctors, leading to subsequent improvement in their use of vitamin B12. For example the use of vitamin B12 for correct reasons improved by 10% (62% in phase 1 to 72% In phase 2) resulting in a 32% reduction in the number of patients inappropriately receiving it (521 to 352). Indeed some practices achieve dramatic change: One practice reduced the number of patients on B12 injections from 53 to just two…..

The proportion of patients receiving B12 injections at the correct frequency also increased by 14% (58% to 72%), which resulted in fewer patients receiving unnecessary injections.

Conclusion

……….It also provides further evidence that participation in audit can bring about change in clinical behaviour leading to improvements in standards of care

I am sure that your average B12 deficient patient wholly disagrees with this conclusion.
You will see that the British audits mentioned above reach and infect other countries……

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1230464/pdf/cmaj_161_2_146.pdf

Use of vitamin B12 injections among elderly patients by primary care practitioners in Ontario

 “although therapy for vitamin B12 deficiency prevents serious morbidity clinical audits in Britain have shown that approximately half of the patients receiving regular vitamin B12 injections do not meet explicit criteria supporting its use and up to one fifth of patients receive unnecessarily frequent injections. “
The situation is totally unacceptable and yet the solution is so easy;
• We need to be listened to and treated based upon our individual need without any  fear of the GP being penalised.
• Those who want to, should be taught to self inject saving time in the practice.

• Our GP’s need to get behind the B12 OTC petition so we can manage our own condition properly removing the cost burden to practices.

If you think you may be B12 deficient please see this page; http://www.b12deficiency.info/what-to-do-next/

If you want to learn more about B12 deficiency as a patient or a healthcare professional please consider attending our conference and hear the truth about B12 deficiency from both medical experts and patient experts.

B12deficiency.info 2016 Conference 17th and 18th June – Education for all, B12, methylation and thyroid.

I am delighted to announce our second event and Sally Pacholok will be with us again!

email-banner

The conference will attempt to address the gaps in the diagnosing and understanding of these conditions and the effects on both physical and mental health.

Please note: This is NOT a two day conference, an identical programme will run each day.

Ticket price £62.00
Includes: Presentations, lunch, refreshments, attendance certificate for CPD and free on site parking.


This conference is for all with an interest in the subjects both personally and professionally.

If you are a patient you will learn more about your condition. If you work with people in any field of mental or physical health then this conference will provide high clinical relevance and an attendance certificate for CPD.

It has been arranged by Tracey Witty of www.b12deficiency.info to promote greater awareness and understanding of B12 deficiency, methylation and thyroid disease.

PLEASE NOTE: There is no sponsorship from, nor affiliations to pharmaceutical or vitamin companies at this event (or throughout www.b12deficiency.info).

The speakers are highly knowledgeable, experienced and engaging. They will discuss the multi-systemic and polyglandular nature of the conditions, diagnosis and misdiagnosis.

Q&A time with the speakers is scheduled.

In addition to our speakers we will hear from three patients who will present their own case studies.

Last years attendees said; – Thanks for organising the excellent conference, the speakers were all very engaging and enthusiastic. I don’t think I have ever been at a conference that so many people stayed until the end, especially on a Saturday!

– I am an acupuncturist and during the conference I realised that my training in B12 deficiency was woefully inadequate. Knowing so much more about B12 and methylation has completely changed my practice!

Meet the Speakers

Sally Pacholok RN BSN
Presentation on –
The effect of B12 deficiency on all body systems. Symptoms, causes, those at risk and common misdiagnoses.

Sally was a licensed Advanced Emergency Medical Technician and worked as a paramedic prior to and during nursing school.

In 1985 aged 22, Sally diagnosed herself with vitamin B12 deficiency, after her doctors had failed to identify her condition. Over the past two decades, she has frequently found untreated B12 deficiency in the patients she cares for and has campaigned to raise awareness of this all too common debilitating neurological condition.

During her presentation Sally will be using case studies to show how b12 deficiency affects people of all ages, including babies and children. She will also be reviewing the pathophysiology, signs, symptoms, risk factors, causes, diagnosis, differential diagnosis and treatment.

Sally’s book inspired Emmy winning film producer Elissa Leonard to produce a documentary on misdiagnosed B12 deficiency in 2011 click to watch. Elissa then went on to produce a feature film based on Sally’s life click to watch.

Anne Pemberton
Functional Medicine Practitioner MSc, PGCE (Autism), RGN.
Presentation on –
Genetic Polymorphisms in Chronic fatigue and Autism: Supporting the role of B12 and Folate and their connection to HPU (Kryptopyrroles).
 

Anne spent the first 25 years of her working life as a registered nurse in cardiac intensive care. Her son’s diagnosis of autism and the lack of medical help was the catalyst for Anne’s decision to retrain as a functional medicine practitioner.

Anne is now the Course Director on the MSc in Nutritional Therapy at the Northern College of Acupuncture in York. She also runs a busy international clinic, with special interest in CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome) and autism.

Anne uses nutrigenomics data from 23andme.com alongside appropriate functional testing, in order to establish each person’s individual health requirements. She has co-written the first UK based practitioner nutrigenomics course in the UK which is delivered twice yearly in York and London. Anne has also co-authored a book with Dr Damien Downing ‘The vitamin Cure for Digestive Disease’.

Dr. Afshan Ahmad BSc, PhD.
Presentation on –
The effect of thyroid replacement in patients with ‘normal’ thyroid chemistry and clinical signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism.

Development for Vaccine Research Trust, a charity established in 1982 which supports research into why a group of people present with signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism but continue to have blood tests within the reference range. She co-founded Vaccine Research International Plc and helped Dr Gordon Skinner in his thyroid clinic in Birmingham, working closely with him in his dealings with the GMC. In 2000, they published a paper on the effect of thyroid replacement in patients with ‘normal’ thyroid chemistry and clinical signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism.

Afshan qualified with a BSc degree in Immunology and Microbiology from London University in 1983 and joined Dr Gordon Skinner’s vaccine research group at the Medical School, University of Birmingham in 1985, she completed her PhD in Medical Microbiology in 1999.

Dr Joanne Younge
Associate Specialist Old Age Psychiatrist.
Presentation on –
Audit on B12 and folate deficiency in the elderly.

Joanne graduated from Queen’s University, Belfast, in 1996 and is an Associate Specialist Old Age Psychiatrist in an NHS Trust.

Joanne is a Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) Clinical Lecturer at Queen’s University in Northern Ireland. Her main interest is improving care for patients, either through quality improvement initiatives, using Institute for Healthcare Improvement methodology, or audit.

She co-authored ‘CBT for mild to moderate depression and anxiety’ in 2014 and an audit on improving patient safety, ‘The impact of introducing a Lithium care pathway’, was published as an example of shared learning on the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) website in 2015.

The introduction of an electronic care record, with better access to blood results, and improved insight into the potential impact of deficiencies prompted an audit into B12 and folate deficiency in the elderly patients referred to the local service. She is hopeful that the audit, presented at the conference, will have an impact on improving patient care in the future.

_______________________________________________________

To book your place click here

To read more please visit the conference page.

I look forward to seeing you there!

Tracey

If you have CFS or M.E. you may be enraged if your B12 levels haven’t been tested ….

I have blogged about this before but it is worth revisiting because it is so shocking.

First of all please note, that if you have CFS or M.E., then your symptoms are also shared by B12 deficient patients. B12 deficiency symptoms can be reversed with B12 injections.

Secondly, the reason you may never have been tested for B12 deficiency may be because your doctor does not understand that macrocytosis/macrocytic anaemia (large red blood cells) is NOT ALWAYS PRESENT in B12 deficiency. In fact it can be very late stage when damage has already been done. This obsession with marcrocytosis is the focus of these harmful instructions to doctors.

The following screen shots are of NICE Guidelines – ‘Do not do recommendations’ for CFS/M.E.  It is a really tricky page to find (and has a habit of hiding) so here is the link;

https://www.nice.org.uk/donotdo/tests-for-vitamin-b12-deficiency-should-not-be-carried-out-unless-a-full-blood-count-and-mean-cell-volume-show-a-macrocytosis

For those who don’t know :-
NICE’s role is to improve outcomes for people using the NHS and other public health and social care services. We do this by:

  • Producing evidence based guidance and advice for health, public health and social care practitioners.

Taken from; https://www.nice.org.uk/about/what-we-do

There are other bullet point’s on this page but here they state ‘evidence based guidance ‘. I’d like to know what evidence backs up this particular set of DO NOT DO RECOMMENDATIONS for CFS and M.E. patients. I bet you would too.

There are many scenarios on this list which may be of interest to you but I am concentrating on the four which are connected to B12 deficiency. The date of all these recommendations is August 2007.

The first reads – Test for vitamin be 12 deficiency should not be carried out unless a full blood count and mean cell volume show a macrocytosis.


Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 10.06.47

The second; Tests for folate levels should not be carried out unless a full blood count and mean cell volume show and macrocytosis.

Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 09.59.49

No 3;  Tests for ferritin in adults should not be carried out unless a full blood count and other haematological indices suggest iron deficiency.

Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 09.59.36

And finally; There is insufficient evidence for the use of supplements such as vitamin B12, vitamin C, coenzyme Q10, magnesium NADH (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) or multivitamins and minerals for people with chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME), and therefore they should not be prescribed for treating the symptoms of the condition. However, some people with CFS/ME  have reported finding this helpful as part of a self management strategy for their symptoms.

Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 09.59.22

Sinister?

Many clinicians incorrectly believe that B12 deficiency always goes hand in hand with anaemia. This ignorance is reinforced by NICE Guidelines despite the wealth of journals stating the opposite.

You will see that all the symptoms of CFS and ME are also those of B12 deficiency http://www.b12deficiency.info/signs-and-symptoms/

This misunderstanding causes patients harm. Many patient’s never present with or experience macrocytosis (large red blood cells).

It may be a very late sign in B12 deficiency and the MCV can appear normal in a patient taking high doses of folic acid. How many B12 deficient pregnant women remain undiagnosed?

See here from the NHS;

http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/anaemia-vitamin-b12-and-folate-deficiency/pages/introduction.aspx
‘Some of these problems can also occur if you have a deficiency in vitamin B12 or folate, but do not have anaemia.’

 There are many journals on this;

2012. Misdiagnosed vitamin B12 deficiency a challenge to be confronted by use of modern screening markers
(….”but its absence does not rule out B12 deficiency and it is not a specific marker as using it solely would miss 84 percent cases. Its normal range is 80-96 fl.20 MCV can be within normal range despite B12 deficiency specially with concomitant iron deficiency,….)
http://www.jpma.org.pk/full_article_text.php?article_id=3808

1995. Neurological complications of acquired cobalamin deficiency: clinical aspects.(“Pharmacological doses of folic acid reverse the haematological abnormalities (eg a MCV) of Cbl deficiency. This may allow neuropathy to develop or progress and make recognition of deficiency more difficult. “)
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8534966?dopt=Abstract

To read more of these journals – or, perhaps we could call them EVIDENCE, please click to see the information compiled by @B12unme
http://www.twitlonger.com/show/n_1s0ae7m

If you have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia too, you may be very interested in this study which uses B12 and folate as treatment; ‘Dose-response relationship and long-lasting effects of B12/folic acid support a true positive response in the studied group of patients with ME/fibromyalgia.’
http://www.plosone.org/article/fetchObject.action?uri=info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0124648&representation=PDF

If you have never been tested and suspect a B12 deficiency please see; http://www.b12deficiency.info/what-to-do-next/

Raising awareness; http://www.b12deficiency.info/how-you-can-help/

Please consider signing and sharing this petition https://www.change.org/p/ian-hudson-please-make-our-life-saving-injectable-vitamin-b12-hydroxocobalamin-available-over-the-counter?

 

Many B12 deficient patients would prefer ‘a dogs life’ when it comes to treatment

dooby-b12-text-version

Vets have a greater knowledge of B12 deficiency than the average GP.

Jasper wouldn’t be misdiagnosed with fibromyalgia, CFS, MS, or bipolar (etc), in place of B12 deficiency.

He would not be given antidepressants for B12 deficiency induced depression.

He wouldn’t be considered to be a lazy hypochondriac.

He would have all of his symptoms taken into account and his improvement would be monitored.

He would not have to cry and plead for his B12 injections, or involve his MP. Shouldn’t humans be treated with the same level of respect and care?

I continue to work hard on the petition and I need some help please;-If you have written to your MP about your deficiency or the OTC petition https://www.change.org/p/ian-hudson-please-make-our-life-saving-injectable-vitamin-b12-hydroxocobalamin-available-over-the-counter?

please could you let me know their name in order that we can get all our MP’s to work together.

My MP has promised to help all she can, but there is strength in numbers so please get in touch either at;

www.facebook.com/b12deficiency.info?fref=nf
or tracey@b12deficiency.info.For more info/research see below;-http://vetmed.tamu.edu/gilab/research/cobalamin-informationhttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23535754/
J Am Anim Hosp Assoc. 2013 May-Jun;49(3):197-203. doi: 10.5326/JAAHA-MS-5867. Epub 2013 Mar 27. Clinical and laboratory findings in border collies with presumed hereditary juvenile cobalamin deficiency.
Lutz S1, Sewell AC, Reusch CE, Kook PH.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1848001
Pediatr Res. 1991 Jan;29(1):24-31.
Inherited selective intestinal cobalamin malabsorption and cobalamin deficiency in dogs.
Fyfe JC1, Giger U, Hall CA, Jezyk PF, Klumpp SA, Levine JS, Patterson DF.

Reply to my email request for information;-

Dear Tracey,

Thank you for your email question. As you know our understanding of the role of vitamin B12 in dogs is far from complete, but there are several clinical diseases in which we know deficiency may occur. During our undergraduate Course, students will be taught about vitamin B12 in several modules eg nutrition and gastroenterology, as well as on clinical rotations when they see cases in practice.

If deficiency is present recommendations for dose rates vary but usually weekly injections are given for several weeks.

I hope this is helpful

BVetMed CertVR CertSAO FRCVS
Associate Professor in Small Animal Clinical Practice

Go away and die quietly, we’re busy

It is rare that I am lost for words – however, I expect after reading this, you might be struggling too.
The below text is a summary of a patient’s experience just last month. I am paraphrasing but the message is very clear. The quality of life of B12 deficient patients, at least to some doctors, simply doesn’t matter. Their pleading for help falls on deaf ears at this practice.

Are you sitting comfortably?  Here we go –

We had a meeting about treating your ‘normal’ serum B12 level of 334 with B12 injections but have decided that even though you tested positive to parietal cell antibodies years ago, that you are;

HEAVILY SYMPTOMATIC and can demonstrate that your;

7 cardiac arrests, 
One major heart attack, 
Pulmonary embolism, 
Over TEN lengthy stays in psychiatric hospital with added ECT treatment, 
A lifetime of complete exhaustion, 
Diagnoses of PND, CFS, fibromyalgia, ADHD, bipolar disorder, and, wait for it, – ‘Treatment resistant depression’ could all be directly related to B12 deficiency –

WE CANNOT POSSIBLY TREAT YOU WITH A HARMLESS, LIFE GIVING VITAMIN B12 INJECTION THAT YOU DESPERATELY NEED. 

We have decided that although we prescribe many chemical ’off license’ drugs to hundreds of people, including you, at this practice (and mainly to those patients with poor mental health), without batting an eyelid, that we cannot prescribe B12 injections to you because it would be considered to be ’OFF LICENSE’ and we might get slapped wrists.

We as a practice, are all sticking together in this so you have NOWHERE to go even though you have shown us there could be great risk to your health without B12.

We have completely ignored the NEQAS report you gave to us; 

http://www.ukneqas-haematinics.org.uk/content/News.asp?id=46
False normal B12 results and the risk of neurological damage (Please click for details)
“In the event of any discordance between clinical findings of B12 deficiency and a normal B12 laboratory result, then treatment should not be delayed. Clinical findings might include possible pernicious anaemia or neuropathy including subacute combined degeneration of the cord. We recommend storing serum for further analysis including MMA, or holotranscobalamin and intrinsic factor antibody analysis, and treating the patient immediately with parenteral B12 treatment.”

We have ignored the all the journals backing up your research.

We have also ignored the NHS website stating that many B12 deficient patients have within range results due to the inaccuracy of the serum B12 test;

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Anaemia-vitamin-B12-and-folate-deficiency/Pages/Diagnosis.aspx
‘A particular drawback of testing vitamin B12 levels is that the current widely-used blood test only measures the total amount of vitamin B12 in your blood. This means it measures forms of vitamin B12 that are “active” and can be used by your body, as well as the “inactive” forms, which can’t. If a significant amount of the vitamin B12 in your blood is “inactive”, a blood test may show that you have normal B12 levels, even though your body cannot use much of it. There are some types of blood test that may help determine if the vitamin B12 in your blood can be used by your body, but these are not yet widely available.’

Instead of giving you HARMLESS, LIFE GIVING, B12 injections, we would rather you continue to take the countless, expensive and harmful drugs which we are completely happy to prescribe for you, despite your protestations that they don’t work. 

We are also completely happy with the labels we have given you, despite them being common misdiagnoses of vitamin B12 deficiency. 

We are rigid, we cannot muster any compassion or understanding and won’t do our own research, we simply can’t be bothered. We don’t care that you merely exist, have been chronically ill for decades and live less than half a life.

We do hope you understand our position? 

Now, can you run along and stop wasting our time? We are very busy and very important GP’s. We have lives to save, don’t cha know?
_____________________________________________________________________

Well what the hell do you do with that??

This patient is someone I know. I went to one shocking appointment with them.

I am completely astounded that this patient has the capacity to continue with life despite the trauma, pain and neglect they continue to endure.
This patient deserves care, compassion, understanding and B12, and quite frankly, a bloody medal!

During the appointment I attended, we challenged the GP when it was stated that for this patient, B12 injections would be ‘Off License’, but there was no budging this unfeeling, uncaring, unknowing, cardboard cut out.

Can anyone enlighten me as to why or how b12 injections can be considered ‘off license’ for a heavily symptomatic B12 deficient patient?

Can anyone from the medical profession explain why exactly, patients have to jump through hoops to achieve a diagnosis of vitamin B12 deficiency? The current rationale almost completely ignores symptoms and decides everything on a blood test which is proven to be inaccurate.

Why is it that other conditions have no diagnostic blood test and yet the GP and specialist are completely confident in diagnosing based upon symptoms alone?

How can any clinician feel comfortable diagnosing ‘lab test free’ conditions such as Fibromyalgia, bipolar, schizophrenia, CFS, ME, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s etc, without fully and I mean FULLY, ruling out vitamin and mineral deficiencies? It just doesn’t make any sense.

There is something gravely wrong here and this horrendous, cockeyed situation has to come to an end soon, surely?

Although some of us have GP’s who treat us well for B12 deficiency, the shocking case detailed here is not isolated and is a tale to be continued……..

 

If you too are fighting complete ignorance please find support here;
https://www.facebook.com/groups/174928999276739

If you think you may be deficient please use this page;
http://www.b12deficiency.info/what-to-do-next/

If you want to help us to cut out the middle men who don’t, or won’t care – please sign and share and shout about this petition to help us treat ourselves –

https://www.change.org/p/ian-hudson-please-make-our-life-saving-injectable-vitamin-b12-hydroxocobalamin-available-over-the-counter?

Raising awareness; http://www.b12deficiency.info/how-you-can-help/

See below for more information on the common use of ’unlicensed medicines’.  A particular worry is that Metformin is being used for the treatment of urticaria as well as PCOS. I wonder if these prescribers are checking their patient’s B12 levels since this drug drags them down by stopping B12 absorption from food? I bet they’re not.

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Polycystic-ovarian-syndrome/Pages/Treatment.aspx

Metformin isn’t licensed for treating PCOS in the UK, but because many women with PCOS have insulin resistance, it can be used “off-label” to encourage fertility and control the symptoms of PCOS.

http://www.ipswichandeastsuffolkccg.nhs.uk/Portals/1/Content/Members%20Area/Clinical%20Area/Medicine%20managment/Drugs%20and%20Therapeutics%20Advisory%20Group/Share%20care%20agreements/Valprorate.pdf

Preparations available and licensed indications
Valproate is available in the UK as sodium valproate (Epilim), licensed for epilepsy and semisodium valproate (Depakote), licensed for the acute treatment of mania.
Even though, neither formulation of valproate is licensed for use as a mood stabiliser, there is a significant body of evidence supporting its use.

B12-life-web

Understanding what it feels like to be B12 and folate deficient

Over the weekend I was ambushed by a sickness bug, I was in pain, exhausted and miserable with a screaming headache – however I knew it would pass and that I would be free of feeling like a rag doll in a matter of days.

It occurred to me that what I was experiencing would be just a tenth of what some B12 deficient patients suffer every day of their lives, particularly those who remain undiagnosed, misdiagnosed or indeed those who remain desperately under treated on the paltry 4 injections a year that they are allowed.

I consider myself incredibly lucky that my B12 and folate deficiency symptoms never caused me to experience chronic fatigue but there are thousands of people who live with this every day.

I have no children to look after, but can you imagine feeling like death and having to carry on and look after a family, hold down a job, function when it is almost impossible to breathe, think, walk or stay awake? Many struggle to hold onto their jobs and their families when they are not treated correctly.

When asked to describe how it felt to be B12 deficient a friend, Lynne Wood, described a scenario which perfectly illustrates this, she explained that if you were to tie a sack of spuds (potatoes) to the back of each leg, each arm and to the back of your head and then go about your working day it may come close to what she felt like. I am sure many will identify with this.

I heard an account of a GP being asked (in a social setting) if he gave B12 injections to patients who requested them earlier, his response – “It depends what they’re like”,  so he based medical judgement and treatment on whether or not the patient was to his liking rather than on the manifested pain and suffering. Surely this disgustingly sadistic approach is rare and the neglect B12 deficient patients face is usually as a result of ignorance.

What continues to floor me everyday is that thousands of B12 deficient patients are neglected and refused additional life saving B12 injections despite pleading for respite from their symptoms. I know of patients who are sent away for being even two days early for their quarterly injection, can you imagine this? What caring person in their right mind, would keep someone in pain and suffering when the treatment is so simple, cheap and effective?

This deeply ingrained ignorance which filters down from doctors to nurses creates a barbaric situation for patients.

A dog taken to the vets in such a terrible state might actually be put down – however we all know that a vet is taught far more about B12 deficiency than many of the doctors that B12 deficient patients encounter.

On a lighter note – although a little disturbing, someone wrote to tell me that the health food shop had run out of B12 supplements and so she was advised to take double the dose of B6……… Unbelievable!!

 

If you need an excellent support group please consider joining Pat Kornic’s group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/PAB12DSupportGroup/?fref=nf

Raising awareness:http://www.b12deficiency.info/how-you-can-help/

If you want to be in charge of your own health please sign and share this petition – https://www.change.org/p/ian-hudson-please-make-our-life-saving-injectable-vitamin-b12-hydroxocobalamin-available-over-the-counter?

 

East Lancashire NHS Trust – you win the trophy hands down, for dangerously low, lower reference level for serum B12 test, 110 – 914ng/L!

Just take a look at these results, which are being ignored by the GP (see previous post) and then have a gasp at that lower reference range, are you still standing?  NO?…. neither is the patient.  They remain exhausted with regular blackouts.

What are you doing to your patients East Lancashire NHS Trust?

How many Lancastrians have been misdiagnosed with other illnesses due to the almost impossibility of achieving a diagnosis of B12 deficiency under this Trust?

IMG_20140611_100402

 

East Lancashire NHS Trust need to identify all the inevitable misdiagnoses due to this incredibly low reference range – we thought Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust were bad but this really takes the biscuit.

Exactly how many patients have been incorrectly misdiagnosed with;

Alzheimer’s/Dementia?

Depression?

Chronic fatigue syndrome?

Fibromyalgia?

Multiple sclerosis?

M E?

Psychosis?

Bipolar?

Vertigo?

Congestive heart failure?

Chronic pain disorder?

Anaemia?

Autism?

ADHD?

How many babies fail to thrive?

How many children have a diagnosis of developmental delay, mental retardation?

How many metformin taking diabetics have their neuropathy incorrectly attributed to diabetes?

How many new mothers sectioned with post natal depression from diminished B12 supplies?

How many benign essential tremors have automatically led clinicians to an incorrect diagnosis of Parkinson’s?

How many Strokes and heart attacks?

How many suicides?

 

East Lancashire NHS Trust we implore you to change this assay kit and re test all who have gone before and to screen all those patients who have left the GP’s office with nothing more than a diagnosis of hypochondria.

TAKE ACTION NOW – THIS IS SERIOUS!!

Please visit www.b12deficiency.info

http://b12deficiency.info/children-and-b12.html

Raising awareness; http://www.b12deficiency.info/how-you-can-help/

Please sign and share our petition

http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/ian-hudson-please-make-our-life-saving-injectable-vitamin-b12-hydroxocobalamin-available-over-the-counter

 

Dear Doctor, have you been giving vitamin B12 deficiency another name?

You could probably visit ANY street in the world and find B12 deficient residents. In 20 homes you may find eight people who are deficient, and this may be just two families, including the children of course.  B12 deficiency is very common, however it is very commonly given another name.

My symptom list overlaps with those of my loved ones, however some we don’t share at all. Please remember we don’t all present in the same way.

What we need our doctors to recognise is that misdiagnosis of B12 deficiency is, in itself, an epidemic. Please visit www.b12deficiency.info/misdiagnosis.html

We need our doctors to diagnose correctly and of course to rule out what may be considered to be ‘more serious’ conditions. Please start by ruling out B12 deficiency, make this condition your first port of call. After all, it’s safe, it’s exceedingly cheap to treat and it does not interfere with any other treatment you might feel it appropriate to explore.

I know a B12 deficient patient who has been restricted to quarterly B12 injections. They have also been given, lithium and its associated monitoring, anti psychotics, anti epileptics, anti depressants, MRI scanning, CT scanning. We know she deteriorates because those in charge of her care refuse to recognise the vital importance of this essential vitamin and that each of her symptoms traces it roots to B12 deficiency. Tragically this is not an isolated case.

In the face of flawed serum B12 tests, using a therapeutic trial of B12 loading doses whilst you spend the time ruling out, or confirming other illnesses is quite simply, common sense and good medical practice.

We need our doctors to KNOW the symptoms of B12 deficiency, yes there are a lot, but you have been trained to retain information, learning the symptoms of this condition will save more lives than you can imagine, I list them below.

Remember, this deficiency affects ALL body systems but not every sufferer will present in the same way, each family member can have a different set of symptoms and please don’t forget the children!  If you diagnose a mother, make it your job to screen any children too.

Make it your job to listen to your patient’s when their symptoms return only a week after an injection. Make it your job to follow the BNF guidelines and give the injection every other day until the patient’s symptoms stop improving.
Make it your job to understand the need for optimum ferritin and folate levels. Treat your patient’s as individuals, teach them to self inject, as you do your diabetic patients, just think of the nurses time saved! Put their B12 on repeat prescription so they don’t need to plead for health,  this will free up more of your time.
Please, please, please,  skip the cyanocobalamin tablets unless you KNOW, without a doubt, that your patient’s deficiency is due to diet alone.

Many with this condition have been misdiagnosed, they become expensive to treat, some cannot contribute to society and this costs the NHS a fortune.   You will see that the following conditions share many vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms.

I hope you will look closely at the diagnoses you have made for your patient’s and that you can find it within yourself to revisit the treatment prescribed.

Multiple sclerosis
• numbness and tingling
• blurring of vision
• vertigo
• tremor
• ataxia
• fatigue
• chronic pain
• muscular spasticity
• muscle weakness and tightness
• bladder incontinence
• constipation
• cognitive problems
• anxiety
• depression
• erectile dysfunction

Alzheimer’s
• forgetfulness
• mood swings
• speech problems
• vision problems
• delusions
• incontinence
• weight loss
• loss of appetite
• dysphagia
• memory loss
• increased vulnerability to infection
• difficulty moving
• disorientation
• difficulty performing spatial tasks

Parkinson’s
• tremor
• stiffness of muscles
• dystonia
• postural instability
• depression
• anxiety
• cognitive impairment
• delusions
• sudden outbursts of emotion
• poor concentration
• psychosis
• urinary incontinence
• constipation
• erectile dysfunction
• dysphagia
• orthostatic hypotension

CFS
• fatigue
• forgetfulness
• confusion
• palpitations
• dizziness
• balance problems
• IBS

Congestive heart failure
• fatigue
• breathlessness
• ankle swelling
• a persistent cough
• lack of appetite
• weight loss
• tachycardia
• depression
• anxiety

Fibromyalgia
• slowed or confused speech
• cognitive impairment
• widespread pain
• stiffness
• fatigue
• IBS
• inability to regulate body temperature
• tinnitus
• tingling and numbness
• anxiety
• depression
• painful periods

I could of course go on…… and on …………

Here are the symptoms of B12 deficiency

Neurological
• Tinnitus.
• Tremor.
• paresthesia – numbness, tingling and pain.
• Confusion / disorientation.
• Weakness of legs, arms, trunk.
• Impaired vibration – position sense.
• Abnormal reflexes.
• Unsteady or abnormal gait / falls.
• Ataxia (Neurological disorder affecting balance, coordination and speech).
• Balance problems.
• Difficulty walking.
• Dizziness.
• Restless legs.
• Visual disturbances / decreased-blurred vision / damaged of optic nerve.
• Forgetfulness, memory loss.
• Dementia / intellectual deterioration.
• Impotence.
• Paralysis.
• Impaired fine motor coordination.
• Muscular spasticity.
• Bladder or bowel incontinence.
• Impaired pain perception.
• Nocturnal cramping.
• Disturbance in taste and smell.
• Optic atrophy.

Neuro psychiatric
• Psychosis
• Depression / suicidal.
• Post natal depression.
• Irritability.
• Paranoia.
• Mania.
• Hallucinations.
• Violent behaviour.
• Personality changes.
• Apathy.
• Anxiety.
• Delusions.

Haematological signs and symptoms
• Anaemia
• Macrocytosis (large red blood cells).
• Hyper segmented neutrophils.
• Generalised weakness, fatigue.
• Breathlessness.
• Pallor / jaundice.
• Chronic fatigue.

Vascular Problems
• Orthostatic hypotension / Postural hypotension

Female
• Infertility.
• Recurrent miscarriage.
• Abnormal PAP smears.

Male
• Infertility.
• Impotence.
• Low sperm motility.
• Low sperm count.

Gastrointestinal
• Loss of appetite/weight loss or anorexia.
• Epigastric pain (poor digestion, bloated feeling after eating small or normal sized meals).
• IBS – Irritable bowel syndrome.
• Constipation.
• GERD – Gastric reflux disease – ulcers / mouth ulcers.

Additional Signs and Symptoms
• Dry cracked corners of the mouth.
• Premature greying.
• Glossitis – swollen / sore tongue, geographic tongue.
• Fainting/light headedness.
• Osteoporosis.
• Symptoms mimicking Parkinson’s and MS.
• Nominal aphasia – difficulty recalling names or words.
• Radiculopathy, spinal nerve pain – commonly in lower back and neck.
• Increased susceptibility to infections.
• Poor wound healing.
• Loss of appetite.

Please click here to see the signs and symptoms in children http://b12deficiency.info/children-and-b12.html

Please also see this page http://www.b12deficiency.info/what-to-do-next/

Raising awareness – How you can help

Please consider signing and sharing our petition – you will be helping to save lives
http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/ian-hudson-please-make-our-life-saving-injectable-vitamin-b12-hydroxocobalamin-available-over-the-counter