Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Medical Negligence

Neville Angove

I caught part of a reality show about ICU operations. Some poor bugger had caught an infection after neural surgery, and was not responding to antibiotics after three days administration. The hospital asked the parents if it could take him off life support and let him die. They agreed, and it did.

In 2007, I did not respond to antibiotics for over a month. Luckily, I did not catch pneumonia, and the hospital decided to keep me on dialysis and breathing support. I had entered hospital in a coma after developing legionella sepsis from an antibiotic-resistant version. My kidneys failed, my liver failed, my lungs failed, and then my heart gave up the fight. I was revived, but i spite of showing no response to antibiotics, the staff kept me on life support.

To add insult to injury, I contracted a multiple-resistant version of MRSA (EMRSA-E15) and MRAB, after more than two weeks of antibiotic treatment. It seems I only survived by also developing rhabdomyolisis, which caused me to burn off half my body weight and kept my kidneys from functioning. A combination of losing weight that made the inadequate oxygen support become adequate, and my immune system finally killing off the infections, and I started to come out of the coma.

Unfortunately, although I survived the treatment, I ended up about 75% crippled. It has been described as either a generalised stroke, or a rare case of late onset cerebral palsy. The hospital refused to acknowledge my condition, in case it meant it had to admit I had acquired at least two infections in hospital because of inadequate hygiene. I have been fighting for support ever since.

As of this date, my poor mobility status is officially described as being caused by a mental condition. I can't apply for medical support because I have be examined for each request, and the law says I have to pay for each examination (which I can't afford). On my three admissions to hospital for related problems since I was crippled, the hospitals have refused to perform even the most rudimentary examinations (in April 2009, my report stated that I had no physical or medical problems, in spite of being kept in isolation, and needing a wheelchair to be kept on hand so I could be evacuated if required).

The reason I am writing this is that the TV program saw seemed to publicly argue and justify that if a patient does not respond to antibiotics after three days, then it is OK now to cease life support. Glad my month in a coma occurred three years earlier. Seems that doctors are trying to increase the amount of responsibility they can now avoid. Already, it is accepted that the deaths through medical negligence in hospitals of up to 30,000 Australian hospital patients a year is "...a minor matter."

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