Woman, 32, has cardiac arrest after hospital keeps giving her operation drug

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A 32-year-old woman went into cardiac arrest after a hospital blunder meant she was still receiving the muscle relaxant drug she had been given during an operation.

Ria Lawton had emergency surgery in August 2014 at Dewsbury Hospital following delays in the diagnosis of an ectopic pregnancy.

After her surgery she received painkilling medication through an IV drip, but the equipment had not been flushed of the muscle relaxant drugs used during surgery.

Ms Lawton, from Leeds, found herself unable to breathe for herself or communicate, even though she was aware of medical staff treating her.

She suffered a cardiac arrest and lost consciousness before staff were able to resuscitate her.

The chief executive of the Mid Yorkshire NHS Trust, which operates Dewsbury Hospital, has apologised for the care she received.

Ms Lawton, who has since suffered post-traumatic stress disorder, says she decided to speak out about the need for increased resourcing in hospitals after doctors warned the NHS may be facing a critical shortage of anaesthetists.

She said: “I’ve suffered with PTSD since the mistake happened and am still in therapy it has completely changed me as a person and I no longer feel safe in a hospital environment.

“My operation was in the early hours of the morning and such a tiny mistake could have potentially killed me had it not been for the fast actions of the nurse who had taken the time to speak to me the following morning.

“Had she not been there I’m not sure anyone would have found me in time to resuscitate me and I could have died. The latest news on the shortage of anaesthetists is worrying given what I experienced.

“I don’t want what happened to me to happen to someone else because their anaesthesiologist is wondering how many shifts they will have to fill or when they will get a break. It is clearly becoming an issue and it is important steps are taken now to increase resources.”

Lawyer Lauren Bullock at Irwin Mitchell, said: “The recent reports suggesting the NHS is facing a shortage of trained anaesthetists are extremely concerning.

“This could of course have a negative impact on patient safety and lead to operations being cancelled.

“We have seen, in cases like Ria’s, just how serious errors made by anaesthetists can be for patients.

“The concerns of leading doctors need to be taken into account and steps taken to ensure the NHS has enough trained anaesthetists to treat patients correctly.

“It is important professionals are fully supported and are not being overstretched as mistakes can happen in these situations.”

Ms Lawton has settled out of court for an undisclosed sum.