Cancer patient feared death in oxygen mix up

A cancer patient said he feared he was '˜going to die' after he was mistakenly given compressed air instead of oxygen for four hours by nurses.

Thursday, 1st December 2016, 4:08 pm
Updated Tuesday, 6th December 2016, 4:27 pm
conquest hospital SUS-150605-094148001

Dennis Preston has lung cancer and was admitted to the Conquest Hospital on November 8 to have one of his lungs aspirated.

He was discharged from the hospital later that day but was readmitted on Friday November 11 to Baird Ward where he was given antibiotics and a blood transfusion.

But the following day, 77-year-old Mr Preston said he was left fearing for his life after staff administered compressed air instead of oxygen for several hours.

Mr Preston, from Fellows Road, said: “For a period of approximately four hours I was administered compressed air instead of compressed oxygen, despite having what I thought was oxygen turned up during this time.

“This caused my oxygen saturation level to drop to unsafe levels and led me to believe, as I still do, that I was in serious danger of losing my life.

“I was without the oxygen required to keep my lungs and brain functioning for the entirety of this period until the night shift sister realised the error.

“I also believe that this caused significant strain on my already weakened heart function.”

He added: “I told them I was struggling for breath and asked for the oxygen to be turned up but of course it was not. It was pure air.

“I thought I was going to die that day.”

Mr Preston has lodged a complaint with the hospital and is demanding that compressed air meters are removed, in order to prevent a similar episode.

He said: “I have got a bad heart as well as lungs and obviously the air must be compressing them so I could have died or had a heart attack or anything.”

“I do not see why it should happen to somebody else.”

Sarah Wilmer, head of nursing, said: “We are sorry Mr Preston experienced the care that he did.

“This is not the standard of clinical care we wish to offer our patients.

“Senior clinical staff did apologise to him before he left hospital.

“The episode was raised as a clinical incident at the time and is currently being investigated.

“In the meantime, we have removed all compressed airflow meters from the bedside, taped over the compressed air sockets on the ward and reminded nursing staff not to use compressed airflow meters.”

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