B12 deficiency, the fantasy & the reality

The BBC came to the first day of the 2016 conference and as part of their report they needed to get a ‘balanced’ view of B12 deficiency so they interviewed a GP. This slide below shows the statement provided.

IMG_3100

As you can see, this GP from the RCGP (Royal College of GP’s) has stated that;  “GPs are highly trained individuals and I have absolutely no doubt of their ability to diagnose and thereafter treat vitamin B12 deficiency.”

The fact is that from experience, we know that this is a fantasy, many of our GP’s know that this is a fantasy and I’m sure that even the doctor speaking those words knows that the statement he gave (or was given) is a fantasy.

There is no doubt that GP’s are highly trained – but they are not highly trained in nutrition, and certainly not in B12 deficiency. How can they be when it doesn’t feature in their curriculum?

The stark reality for B12 deficient patients, not just in the UK but globally, is that for the vast majority of clinicians including consultants, doctors, nurses, medical students and even NHS Nutritionists,  education in nutrition is sparse and in the case of vitamin B12, it can be non existent. Even some privately trained nutritionists do not understand the essential need for B12 injections rather than oral supplements in those who cannot absorb B12 from food.

Unless a clinician has a personal interest; suffers from this condition themselves or they have a family member with it,  they very often have no idea of the many causes and symptoms of B12 deficiency or of the seriousness of it. They may be exposed to limited information on just pernicious anaemia which, in reality, represents the very tiny tip of the iceberg.

Myths are learnt or picked up during their careers;

That too much B12 is toxic, that levels over 2000 post injection are ‘dangerously high’

That the symptoms experienced are psychosomatic

That B12 is a placebo and that the more you have the more you want

That 4 injections a year means you have a vast store of B12 in your liver, enough to last you years

That even though you include B12 in your diet, that your deficiency is dietary

That you can now miraculously absorb B12 now because their computer says so.

This is all incorrect.

An example of the reality for many patients is contained in the letter below. This was sent to me (and launched my website www.b12deficiency.info) there are even worse examples contained within the letters page.

You can see from this letter that my GP contacted a gastroenterologist, a ‘Specialist’ who should (in an ideal world) know a little about B12 deficiency and the gut, however, he felt I should see a psychotherapist and be prescribed anti depressants for my B12 deficiency symptoms. He came to this conclusion without ever meeting me. Bizarre practice?

My GP perhaps contacted this gastroenterologist because she felt her own knowledge was not enough or she needed someone else take the responsibility? I feel she was let down by someone else whose knowledge ‘was not enough’ either.

Specialist letter (2)

My GP thought the suggestions in the letter were reasonable until I pointed out that yes, I could spend £50 talking to a psychotherapist but what I would be saying is “I’m here because my GP won’t give me the B12 injections I need.”  I also asked my doctor why she thought her memory was more important to her than mine was to me. Thankfully I was prescribed more frequent B12 injections.

Many people write to me to ask “who is the best specialist for me to ask my GP to refer me to regarding B12 deficiency”. The answer to that can only be; ‘the specialist who understands what it means to be B12 deficient’ and tragically, the experience for so many is that those are few and far between. Too many patients find themselves out in the cold, desperately under treated or misdiagnosed with other conditions simply due to a lack of education and awareness.
Our clinicians have been done a great disservice, it’s complete madness that nutrition is not the biggest part of medical training.
If we look at this from the GP’s point of view and consider the long years of intensive training,  a patient tries to tell them they’re missing something so fundamental.  They might think it ridiculous that this seemingly enormous potential for misdiagnosis of B12 deficiency were fantasy on the patients part. Surely if it was so important then surely it wouldn’t have been missing from their education, it would have warranted in-depth learning and be a part of all modules and not just the couple of hours they may actually spend on the subject?

How can our GP’s look for something they don’t know they should be looking for? If their eyes haven’t been opened by personal experience and their peers dismiss B12 deficiency as a nonsense afflicting hypochondriacs, then the chances are that they might conclude this too.

I want to share this Ted Talk on ‘The Power of Generalism’ by Dr Ayan Panja with you because it served to remind me of the daily challenges and wide ranging skills that GP’s have. Due to the my own experience and that of those who write to me, I am guilty of forgetting this from time to time.

 

In the UK the average GP is allocated around seven minutes to with each patient. This includes listening to the complaint, diagnosing and prescribing. This is unsatisfactory for both parties. Sometimes it is easy to forget the previous kindness and excellence of our individual GP’s when the gaping chasm of knowledge of B12 deficiency looms.

This situation can lead to a drastic change in the patient-doctor relationship. The emails I receive every day very rarely champion the GP or the specialist. They are from desperately ill people who are being, dismissed, under treated and generally given short shrift. This needs to change but the ‘system’ is not making this easy for either party.

There are GP’s who are able to treat B12 deficiency correctly as per patients symptoms, there are others who feel their hands are tied and there are some who presume that they know how the patient feels, better than their patient.

Some enlightened GP’s are fully aware of the terrible hand dealt to B12 deficient patients and if we could all work together on this then our relationships would remain intact.

I feel my job with the website is to help patients to remain under the care of their doctors. In order to do this, some patients have to try and educate, sometimes this is an insurmountable task and patients end up ‘going it alone’. This is far from ideal.

There are ‘powers that be’ in the NHS, the government and other agencies who are well aware of the situation and scale of the B12 deficiency problem. Thousands of us have reported it and there are countless journals spanning decades backing up what we say,  but so far it remains suppressed. The comment from the GP to the BBC bears this out.

By working together we can make a difference.

Best wishes Tracey

www.b12deficiency.info

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/b12deficiency.info/

Twitter – @B12info

If you need any help or information, please email me at tracey@b12deficiency.info

If you are interested in attending next years conference (September) please register your interest via conference@b12deficiency.info

Remember there is no clinical evidence for our restricted treatment – your doctor may not be aware of this and might be inclined to increase the frequency if they were?

http://www.b12deficiency.info/blog/2016/09/28/the-tanks-empty-but-i-can-smell-petrol-so-you-have-90-days-more-driving-ahead-of-you/

 

‘The tank’s empty but I can smell petrol so you have 90 days more driving ahead of you’ …..

If this advice were given by a garage we’d know they were kidding –  but a similar instruction is given in the UK to too many B12 deficient patients regarding their treatment.

NICE and BNF Guidelines advocate a maintenance dose for patients with neurological symptoms is one injection every two months. This is very often ignored and a move straight to a three monthly maintenance dose (after a 6 injection loading dose), is the norm. This is based on NO CLINICAL EVIDENCE whatsoever yet it appears to be set in stone.

I have spent quite some time trying to find the research for the bizarre idea that four B12 injections per year as a maintenance dose is ‘optimal treatment’, since this restricted regime harms those who are in dire need of a nutrient their systems are starved of. The term ‘optimal treatment’ is used to describe our quarterly maintenance dose in a series of GP audits which I blogged about earlier this year.
It was decided that district nurses time could be saved by lessening the frequency of B12 injections given, so this was eventually adopted nationally without any care for the patient. Our UK maintenance dose guidelines are based on cash saving exercises.

At the end of this blog post are the replies I have from various agencies; NHS England, Public Health England, Health Select Committee, British National Formulary, NICE, to the question;

“Please can you show me the clinical evidence which states that the three monthly maintenance dosage for B12 deficiency is optimal treatment.”

You will see that everybody addressed passes the buck and thinks that someone else has this elusive information which so many doctors adhere to. The emails take a circular route which, of course, yield no result whatsoever since there is no clinical evidence.

In a letter to my MP, Sir Bruce Keogh of NHS England stated “Most patients respond well to quarterly injections”, but where is his source?

It’s quite obvious that a great many patients do extremely badly on 3 monthly injections. Patients who email me with the subject line; ’Desperate’, ‘please help’ or ‘Am I going mad?’  And the 1000’s of members of online support groups are also testament to this.

A serum B12 level can show as ‘within range’ for weeks or even months after a single B12 injection or even a single oral supplement.  This can fool doctors into thinking there is plenty of B12 circulating and available to draw upon when, in reality, there isn’t any B12 available to the patient.

If you want to understand the complexities of B12 deficiency then this document on the enterohepatic circulation of B12 will help.

This is what Kevin Byrne (author of the above) states –

“The problem arises when you start to believe that the damage accruing from a long term deteriorative process can be fixed with a handful of injections, and when you take serum levels as a direct measure of the functioning of a distant, complex organic process.”

Many clinicians do not understand that;

• When a B12 injection is given, the majority is excreted via the bladder & bowel within 24 hours.
• B12 is water-soluble, non toxic & costs pennies.
• Progression of nerve damage is inevitable in patients who are starved of B12.
• B12 is vital for life, is required to produce healthy red blood cells and for DNA synthesis.

Both patients and clinicians are being led up the garden path;

The vast majority of GP’s are not fully educated on this very common, debilitating condition and they think they are advising patients correctly based on the limited information they were taught.

There are enlightened doctors who know that 3 monthly injections are a tortuous proposition for many patients they see and they treat appropriately by symptoms.

Worryingly there are also doctors who are informed, who want to treat patients appropriately but feel their hands are tied, either by their colleagues or by even more restrictive ’practice guidelines’ which appear to take precedence over National Guidelines. Or, these doctors are terrified of being reported to the GMC for ‘unusual prescribing’, quite bizarre when what we are discussing is a non toxic essential vitamin.

Evidence of this clinical evidence is nowhere to be found, It simply does not exist. It is a myth generated to save time and money and has had the opposite effect, costing the NHS and in turn society, millions if not billions of pounds. This is due to the inevitable misdiagnoses that occur when doctors fail to understand that four injections a year will never be enough to heal damaged nerves in many patients.

Trying to put a forest fire out with a teaspoon of water would be just as futile.

What other group of patients with a serious debilitating condition would be subjected to the same illogical and harmful treatment regime?

Whilst the vast majority of clinicians lack up to date knowledge of B12 deficiency & whilst treatment of this condition remains so illogically and harmfully restrictive, it becomes even more essential for patients to be able to access injectable B12 over the counter in the UK.

Patients don’t want more injections than they need, they just want to be able to function and get on with life. It is time once again, to shine a very bright light on exactly why UK patients are kept chronically ill and unable to work on this ridiculously low frequency, based on no clinical evidence whatsoever.

If you are in the UK, you can help by sharing this information with your MP and by asking them to contact my MP, Nicky Morgan (nicky.morgan.mp@parliament.uk) so that they can work together on this urgent issue.

Many thanks Tracey
www.b12deficiency.info

Emails below;

To: Health Committee <HEALTHCOM@parliament.uk> (Dr Sarah Wollaston)
Subject: Re: Clinical evidence for B12 treatment

Dear Victoria

Thank you for your email and the link. However you misunderstood my question. I am asking for “clinical evidence” not “clinical guidelines”.
Please can you point me in the direction of the clinical evidence that states that a three monthly maintenance dose of a 1ml b12 injection is optimal treatment for B12 deficiency? I recall Sarah stating to one of her constituents that she is aware of this evidence.

Best wishes
Tracey
www.b12deficiency.info

Health Select committee (Dr Sarah Wollaston)

<HEALTHCOM@parliament.uk> wrote:

Dear Tracey

I have asked Sarah’s office but unfortunately between us all we can’t track this information, you will need to contact NHS England/Department of Health.

Sorry I couldn’t help.

Best wishes

Victoria

Public Health England;

Hi

Thanks for your email to Public Health England. This falls outside our remit, however we are unsure who you should approach. It might be something NHS England can help you with.

Regards

PHE Enquiries.

NHS England:

Dear Tracey

Thank you for your email of 8 August within which you requested information about the clinical evidence regarding the two and three monthly maintenance doses for B12 deficiency.

NHS England is unable to advise regarding this matter and it is recommended you contact National Institute for health and Care Excellence. Contact details are available at: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance
Further information regarding B!2 can be reviewed at: https://www.nice.org.uk/search?q=b12

I am sorry I am unable to assist you further and trust the information above is sufficient to progress your enquiry.

NICE;
(Please note I cut a whole load of this enormous email out to save you falling asleep – It was the text from the page highlighted)

Dear Tracey

Thank you for contacting NICE.

NICE produces a range of guidance and information products, including clinical guidelines, which are recommendations on how healthcare and other professionals should care for people with specific conditions. Our clinical guideline topics are referred to us by the NHS England. I can confirm that we have not been asked to develop a guideline relating to the care of people with B12 deficiency.

I believe that the resource that you have located is clinical knowledge summary (CKS) on Anaemia – B12 and folate deficiency. CKS are developed by an external company and we work with the publisher to make them available on the NICE Evidence Services website, as a source of advice for health professionals working in primary care, while they may refer to NICE guidance (if there is any that is relevant), they also use many other sources. It is important to note that they do not constitute NICE guidance.

The evidence behind the recommendations in the CKS is presented underneath the recommendations under a subheading ‘Basis for recommendation’. I hope this is helpful.

Kind regards
Janet

(I didn’t find it helpful obviously, they point towards lots of journals who don’t have the evidence we require and to the BNF; here is their response below; )

BNF British National Formulary

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.

Kind regards,

BNF Publications

You will see from my previous blog on this subject that I also asked all the Marketing Authorisation holders  who provide injectable B12 in the UK where their evidence for the three monthly maintenance dose came from and each of them drew a blank too.

http://www.b12deficiency.info/blog/2016/02/16/uk-b12-deficient-patients-paltry-3-monthly-maintenance-dose-of-b12-injections-is-based-on-cash-not-care/

 

I met Jane Ellison MP in Parliament last week…..

Jane Ellison, Public Health Minister and two advisors kindly spent time listening to the issues facing B12 deficient patients when I met her along with my own, very supportive MP, Nicky Morgan.

I chose to petition Jane as her ministerial responsibilities include; dementia, diabetes, children’s health and school nursing, long-term conditions, health visiting, NHS health checks, preventing avoidable mortality etc. All these categories and more relate to B12 deficiency.

Surprisingly Jane Ellison said that in three years in post she hadn’t heard anything about B12 deficiency and therefore all that I delivered was new to her!

I spoke about the 18,000 odd signatures on the B12 OTC petition, (this asks for our B12 to be made available to purchase over the counter from pharmacies, to bring us into line with so many other countries)  each time it’s signed an email is sent to both Jeremy Hunt – Secretary for Health and Dr Sarah Wollaston; Member of the Health Select Committee.

I spoke about my own personal experience of B12 deficiency and why I feel that both petitions are so vital to the lives of so many who are as yet undiagnosed and those who are currently under treated. I spoke about the 20,000  visits per month to my website of which over 50% are from the UK.

We are all aware that this is a worldwide problem and not just a whine from a disgruntled handful of patients.

I was not allowed to take a paramedic to the meeting with me who would have relayed that around 80% of the calls she attends to are made up from those ‘at risk’ groups; elderly patients who fall, mental health patients, and patients with chest pain.

I also spoke about the petition I have addressed to Jane Ellison herself (to add screening for both B12 and folate to be added to a full blood count) and I left her with some of the many comments left by signers who detail their own delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis of B12 deficiency. I also spoke about the low reference ranges of the serum test and of the need to treat patients by symptoms.

It remains to be seen whether or not she is convinced that we have a problem.

Jane Ellison will however, follow in many of our footsteps and write to NICE and to the RCGP and other NHS departments following our meeting. Perhaps a letter from a Minister will make the difference?

I will update you when I hear anything.

I know that so many UK patients have met with or written to their MP’s and to NICE and frankly, to anyone else they can think of who may have either clout or heart.

I hate to ask you again – but for those of you who can muster the energy to contact your MP, please ask them to raise the issues and concerns you outline with both Jeremy hunt MP and Jane Ellison MP then perhaps we can help them to understand the strength of feeling that patients have and the desperate need for change?

If you have already done this, could you please make sure your MP has forwarded the information onward too?

Thanks to all of you who have already emailed me the names of your supportive MP’s. My MP Nicky Morgan will have contacted them – it doesn’t mean they have engaged unfortunately but you could ask!

If we all work together on this, we can make a difference.

Al the best, Tracey

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.

A very bright light at the end of a very long tunnel – Letter 7

The letters page http://www.b12deficiency.info/letters/ is full of examples of poor understanding of B12 deficiency…. but letter 7 is very different!!

If you are struggling to gain access to correct treatment and you have similar problems to this patient, maybe your GP or haematologist could benefit from reading this, frankly, amazingly supportive letter?

‘…….a treated case of pernicious anaemia and subacute combined degeneration of the cord. She requires high doses of hydroxocobalamin to maintain her general well being, i.e. 1mg intramuscularly daily.… I will leave it to yourself to make enquiries and discuss whether her hydroxocobalamin can be fully funded by the NHS.’

 

Many of us have problems with accessing correct treatment. Many of us try desperately to raise awareness of B12 deficiency.

If you want to learn more and know of others who do too, please share the conference information with them – http://www.b12deficiency.info/conference-2016/

Letter 7 Haem-letter-1200

Please note; This letter came to me fully redacted so I have no idea who wrote this letter or which NHS Trust they work for.

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

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

The Ignorance of Vitamin B12 Deficiency in Children

B12 is tragically undiagnosed and misdiagnosed in children, for many doctors testing for this deficiency is not even on their radar so it’s missed. In the rare cases when it is tested, there’s every likelihood it won’t be diagnosed due to the dangerously low lab reference ranges in the UK – as ridiculously low as 110ng/L at East Lancashire NHS Trust. If a child is vegetarian or vegan and is not being given a supplement for B12 or was breast fed by a vegetarian or vegan mother who was not advised by their clinician’s to supplement B12, the risk of this deficiency is much higher.

In children who are heavily symptomatic and their deficiency it is not diet related, they may have B12 serum levels which are within range or even look like ‘healthy levels’.  It would be pertinent to carry out further tests such as MMA, Homocysteine and the Active B12 test please visit http://b12deficiency.info/testing.html  Sadly the B12 serum test is flawed but this information is taking it’s time to filter through to clinicians. See here – http://www.ukneqas-haematinics.org.uk/content/News.asp?id=40

If all symptomatic children with a B12 level below 500ng/L were treated without question and worried parents pleas for help listened to, this would go some way  towards halting the untold suffering that families cope with every day. Tragicaly though, many of these children leave their doctors surgery with drugs to treat a misdiagnosis of autism or ADHD. These drugs may or may not modify their symptoms, but the fact remains that deterioration caused by the lack of B12 will continue without the essential injections. A therapeutic trial of B12 injections would be extremely valuable for ‘within range’ symptomatic children. These should be carried out with continuous every other day injections in the presence of neurological symptoms. http://cks.nice.org.uk/anaemia-b12-and-folate-deficiency#!scenariorecommendation:4

If a family has a high prevalence of diagnosed Pernicious Anaemia then it is quite simply ridiculous not to screen children in these families. In adults this deficiency, if identified early enough, can be treated effectively and simply, reversing all symptoms. In children the story can be very different, the nervous system is still developing and if this vital nutrient is lacking then the damage may be irreversible.

All health professionals need to eradicate the incorrect idea that this deficiency only affects women over 60. They also need to listen to terrified parents who know that their children are suffering from the same serious symptoms that they themselves, experience.

See the information below supplied by Sally Pacholok R.N. and Dr Jeffrey Stuart.  It would also be a good idea to buy their book – it really does save lives.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Could-be-B12-Epidemic-Misdiagnoses/dp/1884995691/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1379713769&sr=1-1&keywords=could+it+be+b12

Signs & symptoms in infants and children

• Developmental delay or regression.

• Apathy – Irritability.

• Hypotonia (decreased muscle tone).

• Weakness.

• Tremor.

• Involuntary movements.

• Seizures (fits).

Ataxia (Neurological disorder affecting balance, coordination and speech).

• Anorexia and other eating disorders.

• Failure to thrive.

• Poor weight gain.

• Poor head growth.

• Poor socialisation.

• Poor motor skills.

• Language delay.

• Speech problems.

• Lower IQ – Mental retardation.

• Anaemia.

• Macrocytosis (large red blood cells) Note – need not be present!

Red flags of B12 deficiency in infants, children and Teenagers

If your child exhibits any of the following signs or symptoms, insist that your doctor tests for B12 deficiency.

• Movement problems, including difficulty in walking or writing.

• Mental changes – irritability, altered mood, poor memory, “flat” emotional tone, autistic-like withdrawal.

• Vision problems/abnormalities.

• Slowed weight and height gain.

• Leg pains or other abnormal sensations.

• Fatigue.

• Loss of appetite.

• An abnormally small head circumference in infants or toddlers.

• Apathy,lethargy, or irritability.

• Involuntary movements, such as arm waving in infants or toddlers.

• Tics.

• Grey hairs / premature greying.

• Areas of hypo pigmented skin in a Caucasian child and/or vitiligo, or areas of hyper pigmented skin in a black or Asian child.

• A rooting reflex after eight months of age (this reflex is usually absent after six months of age.

• A history of any surgery (including dental surgeries) involving nitrous oxide. This anaesthetic agent is often administered during dental work or surgeries such as insertion of ear tubes in children with chronic ear infections, can inactivate the body’s stores of B12 and cause severe neurological damage.

• Failure to thrive (poor appetite, poor growth and/or weight gain, general poor health).

• Chronic constipation.

• A diagnosis of developmental delay, autism, cerebral palsy, mental retardation, or other neurological disorder.

• Severe food allergies or sensitivities.

• A diagnosis of coeliac disease or gluten enteropathy.

• A thyroid disorder or other autoimmune disorder.

• A history of stroke or a diagnosis of arteriosclerosis.

• A diagnosis of any psychiatric or behavioural disorder including ADHD.

• A diagnosis of Downs Syndrome.

List Information provided with kind permission of Sally M. Pacholok R.N. & Dr. Jeffrey J. Stuart.

 

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

Please visit

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

Raising awareness;

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

Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust we have a HUGE problem! Lab range for serum B12 130ng/L – 900ng/L

For some bizarre reason, if you happen to be unlucky enough to be under this South Wales NHS Trust and you are deficient in B12 you might have Hell’s own job ever being diagnosed.

Their shockingly low, lower reference level of 130 ng/L for the serum B12 test has potential to make life very dangerous for patients under this Trust.

We already know the  serum B12 test is seriously flawed – http://www.ukneqas-haematinics.org.uk/content/PageServer.asp?S=581567449&C=1252&Type=G&AID=2 but this low level is beyond belief.

How can GP’s in this area diagnose and treat patients who are severely B12 deficient when the lab they use has such appallingly low reference ranges?

In 2006 the lab range at this Trust was 170 ng/L -900 ng/L, still very low but not as shocking as this. In their infinite wisdom, someone thought it would be a great idea to lower it by another 40 points!

Why isn’t there a standard assay Kit used?  Why isn’t the lower reference limit, worldwide, at least 500 ng/L?

GP’s in this area need to act rectify this, they must treat the symptoms of B12 deficiency and take the serum test results with a bucket of salt.  It would of course be pertinent to suggest they recall any patients with a B12 serum test result under 500 and reassess them all. Tragically though, ‘pigs might fly’ before this happens.

The region covered by this Trust is being astoundingly mislead, leaving many patients at a loss and continuing a futile search for the reason for their depression, cognitive decline, failing eyesight, infertility, pain and exhaustion.

This deficiency is an epidemic but it is must be reaching epic proportions here.

Mental health units must surely be fit to burst.

How many misdiagnoses of MS, ME, CFS, Autism, Post natal depression, Bipolar, dementia, etc are there here?

How many ‘early onset’ Alzheimer’s cases are there?

How many patients are housebound and isolated?

How many patients are unable to walk unaided?

How many are unable to look after themselves or their children?

How many are no longer able to work?

How many babies are born with neural tube defects?

How many miscarriages?

Below you will see a result of 108 ng/L. This patient is clearly on their knees in deficiency stakes, however they were unlucky enough to see a doctor who didn’t think it necessary to treat this level and made them wait to be retested three weeks later.  The new level unfortunately was recorded at 138 ng/L so BINGO no longer deficient under Cardiff and Vale Trust!

This patient’s symptoms include – persistent daily nausea, daily headaches, palpitations, fatigue, tingling in fingers, inability to hold head up, poor concentration, inability to finish sentences. This patient also had a positive intrinsic factor test.  Finally after some strenuous persuading from a desperate patient, the doctor reluctantly agreed to give this lone parent loading doses despite being told they weren’t actually deficient and that all the symptoms could be attributed to STRESS.

Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust your lab is failing patients and costing the NHS and society a fortune!

If you chose to make medicine your career because you wanted to save lives, then please ignore B12 serum test results in those who are symptomatic and please start listening to your patients.

Please visit www.b12deficiency.info

Raising awareness; http://www.b12deficiency.info/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

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