A perfect example of this cropped on my community placement the other day. We had been out visiting patients and got back to the surgery to find an answerphone message from an elderly lady requesting help because she had chest pains and difficulty breathing. The message had been left around four hours earlier, and because we had been out of the office we had not been in to receive the call. We tried to return the call, received no answer, and sent our duty doctor to the lady’s house.
In this case the chest pain turned out to be a hiatus hernia and not a heart attack, but did require a hospital admission. The main concern I have with this case is that the lady, in her own words 'didn't want to bother anyone', and so felt that an answerphone message was sufficient to deal with her problem.
Over the past few years I have noticed a number of high-profile campaigns by the British Heart Foundation on this very area, this lady either not seen them or did not feel they applied to her.