Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Arrogant British hospital

At an age when most teenage girls are thinking about school, boys and pop music, Hannah Jones is hoping only to be allowed to die with dignity. Hannah, who is 13 and terminally ill, has persuaded a hospital to withdraw a High Court action that would have forced her to have a risky heart transplant against her will.

Although the operation should prolong her life, it would only provide temporary respite. Instead, Hannah said she would prefer to spend her remaining days in the care of her family rather than take the chance of dying in hospital. The decision to drop the action was taken after Hannah was interviewed by a child protection officer.

Her mother, Kirsty, an intensive care nurse, and her father, Andrew, an auditor, say they respect their daughter’s wishes and are angry that the hospital brought the action. Hannah has been in and out of hospital after having leukaemia diagnosed at the age of 5. The chemotherapy left her with a hole in her heart and, as her body has grown, her heart has been unable to keep pace. However, doctors have warned her that a heart transplant is risky and that, even if it succeeded, the drugs used to prevent her body rejecting the new heart could prompt a recurrence of the leukaemia.

Hannah, from Marden, near Hereford, made her decision after talking to doctors at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, where she had a pacemaker fitted earlier this year, and Great Ormond Street, which would have performed the transplant. The family believe that it was a locum doctor at their local hospital in Hereford who reported the case to the child protection unit after Hannah had been taken home by her parents.

The first the family knew about the action was when they received a phone call telling them the hospital was applying for an order removing Hannah from the family home on the grounds that her parents were “preventing her treatment”. Mrs Jones, 43, said that the locum doctor had wanted to give Hannah a drug to facilitate her transfer to Great Ormond Street for the operation. “The doctor wanted to give her a drug she had already said she didn’t want again . . . The family was in tears thinking she was going to be taken from us against her wishes.”

However, Great Ormond Street told the family that they would not admit the teenager without her consent. After the incident the Joneses wrote to Herefordshire Primary Care Trust complaining about its intervention. In his reply, Chris Bull, the PCT’s chief executive, described Hannah as a “brave and courageous young woman” but defended the doctor’s decision. But after a nurse from the child protection team interviewed Hannah it was decided not to apply for a court order.

In the letter to the family, Mr Bull concluded: “Hannah appears to understand the serious nature of her condition . . . Treatment options were discussed and Hannah was able to express her clear views that she did not wish to go back on a pump or to go into hospital for cardiac treatment.”

Hannah’s father said he was not sure exactly what his daughter had told the child protection officer at their private meeting, “but it must have been powerful enough to convince some very high-up people that she was right”. “Hannah has been through enough already. To have the added stress of a possible court hearing or being forcibly taken into hospital is disgraceful.”


Minor procedure in Australian public hospital nearly kills man

A man says he could have died after an operation left him bleeding heavily and turned his penis black. Michael Eglington, 53, Mr Eglington went Royal Darwin Hospital last Tuesday to have a wart removed from the base of his penis, The Northern Territory News reports. He said he collapsed from blood loss as he rushed back to the hospital less than an hour after being discharged.

"Why did they let me go?" he said. "I could have passed out while I was driving." The internal bleeding caused his penis and testicles to turn black - and his testicles swelled to more than three times their normal size. The Northern Territory News reports it has seen photographs to prove it.

He was treated under local anaesthetic but said he was sent home straight away. "Next thing I started feeling a bit warm about the groin," he said. He said he looked down to see that he was sitting in "an inch of blood" in the chair. He used a nappy to soak up the blood as he drove back to hospital where he collapsed against the emergency counter. "My shorts, my shirt, everything was covered in blood," he said.

Royal Darwin spokeswoman Michelle Foster said the hospital would not comment until an investigation into the incident was complete.


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