Patient refused treatment after Derbyshire doctor allegedly told her “if you get tubed, it is game over”

A Derbyshire doctor who allegedly told a patient “if you get tubed, it is game over”, left her traumatised and refusing intensive care treatment.

By Eddie Bisknell, Local Democracy Reporter
Tuesday, 14th June 2022, 5:04 pm
Updated Tuesday, 14th June 2022, 5:05 pm

The medic was referring to insertion of a tube down the throat to help breathing – but their comment caused her to refuse the treatment when transferred to intensive care.

The alleged statement is said to be a prime example, discussed by Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Foundation Trust, of the need to avoid “clumsy” and “harmful” language when discussing issues with patients.

DCHS is responsible for community health services in the county and city and runs Ripley Hospital and Ilkeston Community Hospital.

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Intubation is the insertion of a tube down the throat to help breathing

During this month’s trust board meeting, Dr Alan Blair, a clinical director and psychological consultant at DCHS, said he had recently discussed the issue with the affected patient.

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He told the meeting that the female patient was told by an Derbyshire A&E doctor: “Something along the lines of ‘if you get tubed, it is game over’.

“The idea of being intubated terrified her. Her symptoms worsened and she was sent to intensive care surrounded by a whole bunch of people being intubated.”

As a direct result of the “game over” statement, Dr Blair said the female patient “refused adamantly” and “really resisted” moves from intensive care staff to intubate her.

Dr Blair said that staff fortunately managed to sufficiently support the patient through other means.

He said: “She survived and lived to tell the story but remains traumatised.

“The sights of seeing patients intubated profoundly affected her. The accidentally careless word stayed with her.”Dr Blair said some patients, after being discharged from healthcare facilities, are left with post traumatic stress issues.

He said this can be caused by “accidental, clumsy, harmful language”.

Dr Blair said there was “much more evidence” of such language in other health organisations in Derbyshire outside of DCHS.

Kay Fawcett, a non-executive director at the trust, said the language was “clumsy”.

She told the meeting: “I think we are hearing about this a lot more and how important it is that we as a trust consider how, particularly as professionals, how our language will affect the people we care about and for.”