herald

Thursday 29 September 2016

Payout for patient who was 'too hairy' for defibrillation

A man whose excessive chest hair repeatedly blocked life-saving attempts by A&E doctors who were trying to get his heart to start beating later received a payout. Photo: Getty
A man whose excessive chest hair repeatedly blocked life-saving attempts by A&E doctors who were trying to get his heart to start beating later received a payout. Photo: Getty

A man whose excessive chest hair repeatedly blocked life-saving attempts by A&E doctors who were trying to get his heart to start beating later received a payout.

The case was revealed as part of an internal report into the accidents and deaths in our overcrowded hospital emergency departments across the country that led to legal claims over the course of one year.

The hairy patient needed defibrillation, which delivers electric shocks to the chest to restore the heart's beat.

He survived but later took a legal case against the unnamed hospital for "sub-optimal" resuscitation.

The man received an unspecified payout, the State Claims Agency report revealed.

In a separate case, a patient who had no known drug allergies and developed anaphylaxis requiring adrenaline to save their life.

In another case a patient who was discharged and developed gastritis - inflammation of the stomach lining - died of a perforated duodenal ulcer at home.

Overall, 69pc of claims related to delay in diagnosis, followed by delay in treatment and unexpected complications.

More than half of non-fatal claims related to orthopaedic conditions and in these cases delayed diagnosis of a broken bone was followed by other accidents such as infection and nerve damage.

Other orthopaedic claims involved X-raying the wrong limb, missing septic arthritis and failing to diagnose a finger injury.

Surgery led to other claims.

In one of these cases an emergency operation to open the abdomen to examine organs had to be carried out after a potentially fatal inflammation occurred.

The patient's appendix had burst and gone gangrenous.

Two days earlier, they had come to the emergency department with abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhoea and were diagnosed with gastritis.

Another claim resulted from a high-risk patient who came to the emergency department with chickenpox. They were on drugs to suppress the immune system after an organ transplant.

Lessons

A delay in treatment led to acute kidney failure and a stroke.

The authors of the report Fiona Culkin and Deirdre Walsh, who are clinical risk advisers, said a number of lessons needed to be learned from the incidents.

There needs to be a greater recognition of high-risk patients and the urgency of referring them to senior doctors.

They also pointed to the importance of clear, accurate and timely documentation.

Promoted articles

Entertainment News