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Oxygen Deprivation and Medication Error Results in Severe Mental Distress

My dear father, a 77-year old man with a history of pulmonary problems, suffered irreversible brain damage when he was deprived of oxygen and received a large quantity of pain and anti-anxiety medicine which caused him to go into respiratory arrest. He needed an MRI to diagnose some extreme back pain, and was transported via ambulance from the hospital to the hospital’s MRI facility across the street without his oxygen. He was also without oxygen for the duration of the MRI. When he was returned to the hospital he was in respiratory arrest, and he was given a special drug to clear his system of drugs; then the offending drug was administered again, cleared again, and yet another offending drug was given! He went into the hospital as my father, and was never again the same person. Most of the time he didn’t even recognize his own children, and he was in neurological distress– unable to sleep, agitated, hallucinating, and delusional. Until I reviewed his medical records, I didn’t know about the two powerful drugs, the unbelievable sequence of twice administering and then clearing anti-anxiety drugs from his system, nor his lack of oxygen. In addition, I discovered that the medication log for the period of time during which he received this high dose of medicine was "missing" from his records. After I pieced together what had happened, I contacted the hospital administration and started a series of letters and phone calls with their risk management department. They admitted to "sloppy record keeping" and lack of a process to ensure oxygen is transported with a patient, but ultimately denied responsibility for my father losing his faculties. Because of his extremely agitated mental state, he required sedatives to calm him for the remaining 35 days he spent in the hospital before leaving this world, and ironically, the only drugs that could calm him contributed to his death.

A complaint that I filed with the Illinois medical board resulted in a slap on the wrist for the hospital and a boilerplate letter to me, meant to appease me. Administrators and investigating agencies are often in bed together, so despite doing all my homework and spending countless hours trying to avenge my father’s death, I have little to show for it. I wanted their policies changed, and I wanted their mistakes to be publicized so other families are aware of the cautions they need to take when admitting a loved one to the hospital. When a human life is involved, there is no place for cover-ups or games that skew hospital statistics for good publicity. Hospitals need to be accountable in deed– not just on paper! I filed a separate complaint with the IL Dept. of Financial and Professional Regulation against the attending doctor, and nearly a year later I have not received their judgment, despite following up on it regularly.