British Hospital Refuses to Hydrate a Dehydrated Patient: Hospital Administrators Hide and the Patient Died

I lived in Great Britain for three years (1994-1997) and have first-hand experience with the National Health Service. Needless to say, I was not impressed. They do fine with child-birth and then abandon older people to their own fate. Nationalized health care is rationed health and do not let anyone tell you differently. When you become old enough, the health service you spent your whole life paying into abandons you in your time of greatest need. Now we have a stark example of this.

Wesley Smith has a blog entry on this. It will make you sick. According to the British newspaper, The Daily Mail, a desperate hospital patient died after he was denied hydration by the hospital. To get hydration, he called the police and begged them to bring him a drink. The patient, Kane Gorny, 22, needed drugs to regulate his hormone levels after successfully beating brain cancer months earlier. However, during a further hospital stay nurses forgot to give him his medication and he became so delirious he was forced to call 999 (the UK equivalent of 911) to ask for help. The police officers went to St George’s Hospital in Tooting, south London, but were turned away by staff who insisted that Mr Gorny was fine. Gorny had been admitted in May 2009 to undergo hip replacement surgery after his bones became brittle. This was a side-effect of his prescribed steroids. Kane’s mother, Rita Cronin, said she spent hours trying to convince hospital staff that Kane needed urgent attention but was repeatedly “told he was alright.” See for the article.

An inquiry into the matter has been initiated by the Crown Prosecution Service at the behest of Gorny’s parents.  Kane Gorny had surgery on his pituitary gland, and he had problems regulating his levels of salt and water in his system.  Pituitary surgery commonly damages that back part of the pituitary gland and this prevents the release of antidiuretic hormone (ADH, also known as vasopressin).  Without ADH, patients have a condition called diabetes insipidus, and they need to take exogenous ADH.  Without exogenous ADH, the patient will urinated themselves to death.  The nurses failed to give him his medicine, and dismissed his concerns and the concerns of his mother.  Because he was so dehydrated, Kane called the police to get some fluid, but the nurses at the hospital dismissed them.  He died from dehydration and abnormally sodium levels.  His death was almost certainly a painful one.

The inquiry will probably result in some nurses being sacked (British for fired), but the status quo will probably be maintained.  This kind of abuse is more routine in the British Health System than they would probably admit.  Doctors have even started to prescribe water to elderly patients to prevent them from dying from dehydration.  Is this what we want for the US?

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Professor of Biochemistry at Spring Arbor University (SAU) in Spring Arbor, MI. Have been at SAU since 1999. Author of The Stem Cell Epistles. Before that I was a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA (1997-1999), and Sussex University, Falmer, UK (1994-1997). I studied Cell and Developmental Biology at UC Irvine (PhD 1994), and Microbiology at UC Davis (MA 1986, BS 1984).

2 thoughts on “British Hospital Refuses to Hydrate a Dehydrated Patient: Hospital Administrators Hide and the Patient Died”

  1. I live in England and the term “National Health Service” is actually a misnomer. The reason is that some areas seem to have more money than others and the treatment that one receives (or doesn’t receive) is basically a postcode lottery. (postcode = zipcode) For example a friends aged mother has AMD but Lucentin isn’t available in her postcode. At the time of the onset of the disease “top-ups” with your own money were outlawed and if you had paid for the Lucentin yourself you would have been kicked-out of the NHS for life! The woman is now registered blind.

    An acquaintance in Cardiff has a bad leg. When he was young he broke his left leg four times in motorcycle accidents. The leg now has very poor circulation and at times his left foot turns black. Now I’m not a doctor I’m a retired systems technician and I know what I’d do with the man’s leg. (1) Perform an angiogram to look at the circulation. (2) Fit some stents where the blockages are. Instead of performing minor surgery or even giving the blokes leg a scan they just give him Cocodamol Codeine tablets for the pain His doctor has said that “He might have to have his leg off”. The man is now aged 65 but when he was working he paid plenty of taxes. In other areas of the country eighty year old men can have sex changes costing tens of thousands of pounds on the NHS but Cardiff Jim cannot even get his leg looked at. How can it be called a NATIONAL Health Service? Its a scandal and in some hospitals people are dying of thirst and malnutrition. The term “Broken Britain” seems appropriate here.

    1. Joe,
      Given the cost of ranibizumab (Lucentis), I am amazingly surprised that NICE would have approved it for any postcode. Given that bevacizumab (Avastin) is essentially used for AMD in the same way, and that bevacizumab is cheaper than ranibizumab, why doesn’t the NHS simply approve bevacizumab for age-related macular degeneration? However, NICE has issued TA118 which does not recommend bevacizumab and cetuximab for the treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer, despite studies that show the efficacy of this drug for colorectal cancer (see Bennouna J, et al., Bevacizumab combined with chemotherapy in the second-line treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer: results from the phase II BEVACOLOR study. Clin Colorectal Cancer. 2012 Mar;11(1):38-44; Chemotherapy of metastatic colorectal cancer. Prescrire Int. 2010 Oct;19(109):219-24; Yildiz R, et al., Bevacizumab every 4 weeks is as effective as every 2 weeks in combination with biweekly FOLFIRI in metastatic colorectal cancer. J Cancer Res Clin Oncol. 2012).

      NICE is not about what works best, but about cost-efficiency analyses that makes a one-size-fits-all prescription for the practice of medicine that rarely works for everyone. This is what happens when the government takes over health care. The government can now dictate to you how you will live, and how much health care you will get and when. What began as a humanitarian venture ends up in inefficiency and tyranny.

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