News and Events

Nurse switches off ventilator

View profile for Judith Thomas-Whittingham
  • Posted
  • Author
Agency Nurse, Violette Aylward, is the subject of an investigation being carried out by the Nursing and Midwifery Council, after accidently switching off the life support machine of Mr Jamie Merret.
Mr Merret is cared for at home on a life support machine due to being paralysed from the neck down, after a car accident in 2002. Mr Merret had a bedside camera set up at his home after becoming concerned about the care he was receiving. Within days, it captured the moment Ms Aylward switched off the ventilator, leaving him brain-damaged.
Miss Aylward is seen in the footage touching the ventilator before a high pitched warning tone indicates it has been switched off. Unable to restart the machine or to properly operate resuscitation equipment, the nurse panics. The machine was only switched on again by paramedics who rushed to the scene. It had been turned off for 21 minutes.
Ms Alyward, who worked for the NHS, was provided by Ambition 24hours, an agency used to provide specific types of Nurse.
A confidential report, by Wiltshire social services, into the incident, concluded the agency was fully aware it was required to supply a nurse with training in the use of a ventilator, but the company did not have adequate systems in place to check what training their staff had received.
Ms Alyward has been suspended by the Nursing and Midwifery Council. Their guidelines say a nurse should work within their level of competence and have the skills to undertake whatever care they are delivering. I think it is fair to say that this may not have been the case in this situation.
The NHS Wiltshire Primary Care Trust said in a statement: "We have put in place a series of actions to ensure that such an event will not occur again either for this patient or others. The incident is the subject of likely litigation so the PCT is restricted in what further it may say in public." This begs the question, should this have been allowed to happen in the first place?
For me, this is an obvious act of negligence and somebody should be answerable, whether it be the Trust, the agency or the Nurse herself.
Here at Stephensons, we are able to assist in matters similar to this in a compassionate and professional manner. If you think that we may be able to assist please contact us on 01616 966 229.
By clinical negligence solicitor and Stephensons' Partner, Lousie Griffiths