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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Camera Caught Nurse Turning Off Ventilator

An agency nurse working for the National Health Service (NHS), Violeta Aylward, was caught on camera switching off a ventilator keeping quadriplegic Jamie Merrett alive. The 37-year-old was left paralysed from the neck down after a car accident in 2002, and set up a bedside camera after he became concerned about his standard of care.

The footage, recorded only a few days after the camera was installed, shows Miss Aylward tinkering with the ventilator before its high-pitched warning tone sounds (indicating it was switched off). While the nurse frets about what to do next, unable to reset the ventilator or provide proper resuscitation, Mr Merrett then struggles for his life. Paramedics did not appear until 21 minutes later, when they managed to turn the life support machine back on. By then, Mr Merrett had suffered severe brain damage, leaving him with the mental ability of a young child.

Prior to the incident, he could talk, operate a computer using voice-activation technology, and use a wheelchair. According to his family, the brain damage has greatly diminished his quality of life.

Karren Reynolds, his sister, told the BBC program Inside Out: "His life is completely changed. He doesn't have a life now. He has an existence but it's nowhere near what it was before. He is very brain damaged compared to what he was before. He was a highly intelligent man and you could have long in-depth conversations with him and now it tends to be more simplistic."

The NHS Wiltshire Primary Care Trust, responsible for taking care of Mr Merrett, said it could not comment due to pending legal action. Mr Merrett had written to the trust by email, warning them of his concerns, but Reynolds claims nothing was done. A leaked report concluded the agency was completely aware of the requirement to supply a nurse trained to use a ventilator. The report says the company was not adequately prepared to check what training their staff had received. ~ London Telegraph, Oct 25

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