Other St Mary’s horror stories that I picked up this week from health professionals include:
•The patient who went to St Mary’s for a simple test, but the needle broke. Two days later they amputated his right leg; a day later they amputated his left leg because of gangrene and the next day he died, aged 58.
•Another patient who went to St Mary’s casualty department was prescribed blood-thinning drugs. He told them that he was already on a blood thinner called Warfarin, but they said it was absolutely fine to take both. He went home, took one of the new pills, and bled to death in the chair.
The late Dr Tom Chalmers, a distinguished medical researcher, had it right when he said: ‘If doctors died with their patients, they’d take a great deal more care.’ I am not saying there are no good doctors or medical staff at St Mary’s hospital, or that it does not do some good work, but there are enough breathtaking examples of Keystone Cop incompetence – far more than enough – for the place to deserve a government health warning. But it is not alone worldwide, it’s often more like the norm. A former professional health investigator in the UK told me:
‘Oh my God the death rate in hospitals is monumental. When I was in investigation the death rate ran into tens of thousands through incompetence alone. I mean 6,000 people die of malnutrition in these places every year, and drug reactions probably claim another 70,000 lives.
Another thing – over 20,000 people don’t even wake up from anaesthetics each year in the UK hospitals alone. The stats speak for themselves, and I’ve got shelves full of them. That’s why when medics go on strike the death rate drops between 17.5% and 24% in under two weeks.’
What he says is supported by report after report in country after country. In the United States doctors and other medical staff are the third biggest cause of death after heart disease and cancer with upwards of a quarter of a million people dying in US hospitals every year from unnecessary surgery, medication and other errors, the effects of the drugs given to ‘help’ them, and infections picked up in hospital.
Nurse, have you seen my scissors?
Oh, yes, and that big long thing, so big you couldn’t possibly miss it …