Devon NHS patient, 77, wins £32,000 payout following heart surgery

‘I was WIDE AWAKE during my heart surgery’: Pensioner, 77, wins £32,000 payout from hospital after drug mix-up left her ‘paralysed’ but ‘conscious’ on operating table

  • Patricia Otty, 77, admitted to Derriford Hospital in Plymouth, Devon, in April 2017
  • She was then mistakenly injected with the Death Row lethal injection ingredient
  • No painkiller fentanyl was administered at all, meaning Ms Otty was in agony  
  • A £32,000 settlement was agreed by University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust

A heart patient left ‘awake’ and ‘paralysed’ meaning she couldn’t call for help during surgery after she was given the wrong medication has agreed to a £32,000 payout.

Patricia Otty, 77, was admitted to Derriford Hospital in Plymouth, Devon, in April 2017 and given half the usual dose of the general anaesthetic thiopentone for a woman of her age and size.  

She was then mistakenly injected with the Death Row lethal injection ingredient potassium chloride, which stopped her heart.

And no painkiller fentanyl was administered at all, meaning Ms Otty was in agony during the procedure. 

During the operation Ms Otty, from Paignton, would have been unable to move ‘or otherwise indicate she was awake’ because of use of the muscle relaxant rocuronium.    

When Ms Otty’s heart stopped she was resuscitated but when the surgeon cut through her breastbone it is thought she would have been ‘wide awake’ as the anaesthetic had worn off, according to legal documents.

Patricia Otty (pictured with her son Andrew), 77, was admitted to Derriford Hospital in Plymouth, Devon, in April 2017 and given half the usual dose of the general anaesthetic thiopentone for a woman of her age and size

Ms Otty told the Mirror she has since been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and regularly suffers from nightmares where she is ‘choking and experiencing excruciating pain’. 

Hospital staff realised a serious mistake had been made when two ampules of potassium chloride were missing while fentanyl remained unused.

And Ms Otty was never told she could have been conscious during the operation.

She said she ‘implicitly’ recalls the prodecure, but cannot explicitly remember because of the effects of a sleeping pill.

But the effects of her trauma are stark, with Ms Otty vomiting before her heart scan following the operation. She also ‘lost confidence and cried all the time’.

Hospital staff realised a serious mistake has been made when two ampules of potassium chloride were missing while fentanyl remained unused. Pictured, Derriford Hospital

She has a ‘constant sense of dread and anxiety’ and has been ‘terrified of everything’ following the mistake.

University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust admitted breaching its duty of care in 2018 over the wrongful administration of the medicine. It has made 11 learning recommendations.

A £32,000 out-of-court settlement has now been agreed and the Trust said they realised she had suffered ‘moderate’ injuries.

But her son Andrew said his mother’s injuries met the criteria for ‘severe’/   

The Trust said: ‘We’re truly sorry, nobody should go through an experience like this. That’s why we accepted liability and made the payment.’ 

The mistake made during Ms Otty’s operation is not the first blunder for the hospital. 

It comes seven years after an 80-year-old patient died days after he was given a penicillin-based injection despite being allergic. 

John Dudding, of Plymouth, Devon, suffered a severe reaction after being given the wrong medication at Derriford Hospital. He died a week before his daughter’s wedding.

And in 2013, Patricia Prowse, aged 78, went into hospital for a minor operation but died after a succession of blunders left her without essential anti-stroke drugs for three days.

The sprightly grandmother died a day after collapsing over her breakfast at Derriford Hospital, which admitted a catalogue of errors and apologised to her family.  

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