Thursday, April 12, 2007
"The Health and Disability Commissioner has slammed Wellington Hospital over the standard of care given to a 50-year-old man who died of pneumonia.
Ron Paterson was investigating a complaint from the man’s family after he was found dead, 40 hours after being admitted to hospital in September 2004.
The patient's chest X-ray and blood tests were not reviewed for almost 30 hours.
Mr Paterson says what happened was inexcusable, that staff provided a poor standard of care and the man was deprived of simple interventions that may have saved his life."
Gary Moller comments:
This report hardly comes as a surprise and is yet another of a string of awful cases over the years at Wellington Hospital causing unnecessary death and disability.
Reading between the lines of this case, it would appear that this man's bipolar disorder, chronic addiction to smoking and serious chest condition made him a difficult and stroppy patient from the momeent he arrived and the hospital staff took a collective dislike to him. The result was grossly inadequate treatment, bordering on deliberate neglect, that saw him dead in next to no time. It reminds me of a case in Dunedin Hospital many years ago that was never reported:
She was elderly, overweight and demented. She was admitted to hospital to lose weight. Her diet consisted of a glass of water and a piece of white bread with a dollop of Marmite. When she objected to her treatment and peed in her bed, she was isolated in a private room with no sensory stimulation. She did not eat or drink. Within a few days of sensory deprivation, starvation and dehydration she was going ga-ga. The treatment and the isolation continued. By the fifth day, she was dead.
Now this was homicide by willful neglect. Nobody intervened. Everybody just did what they were told and that was to administer the treatment and to do nothing else. The fact the patient died was irrelevant and nobody within the medical team felt responsible - or guilty for that matter. They all knew what was going on and nobody cared a damn about her or the horrific way she died.
I have written about this sort of thing in the past and the advice that I always come back to is this: You must ensure that you always have a strong, informed advocate by your side when you enter hospital; especially if you are elderly, cantankerous by nature or have a mental health condition that affects your behaviour. If the hospital staff take a dislike for you, your life may be at risk.