Hospital treatment causes cardiac arrest and post-traumatic stress disorder

Mr G suffers from a mild form of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) which is a lung condition that causes difficulty breathing.  Although he would get breathless walking up hills, he experienced very few problems with this condition.

One afternoon in November 2010, his condition got worse and he became very breathless.  The practice nurse at his GP surgery recommended he go straight to hospital which he did.  He was diagnosed as suffering an exacerbation of his COPD and he was started on oxygen therapy.  Unfortunately, the flow rate of oxygen given was much too high and this caused his condition to worsen dramatically.  This was not picked up by the doctors until he had become so ill that he suffered a cardiac arrest.  He needed CPR and during the course of this, 4 of his ribs were broken.

Mr G’s physical recovery went relatively smoothly and no permanent damage had been caused.  However, he was so traumatised by the events of that afternoon that he developed post-traumatic stress disorder.  He struggled to come to terms with what had happened and spent much of his time thinking about it which made him very emotional.  He lost all faith in the hospital and as he was adamant he would not go back there, he and his wife moved from their home which they had lived in for over 20 years to be in the catchment area of another hospital.  Fortunately, after receiving counselling, he made a good recovery.

Our expert was highly critical of the treatment provided by the hospital.  He was of the opinion that Mr G’s was not a serious case when he attended hospital and his treatment should be “bread and butter” and “well known to even the most junior doctor”.  He also concluded that Mr G would have been much better if he had just stayed at home rather than go to the hospital as it was the treatment he received and not the COPD which caused his deterioration.

The hospital initially denied they were at fault but shortly after court proceedings were started, they made an offer of settlement and Mr G accepted £30,000 in compensation.

Kathryn Watson – November 2013