Socialized health care may be free, but as the unfortunately named Luck family in Great Britain found out, free care can cost patients their lives.
In October 2007, the National Health Service Trust agreed to pay Debra Luck and her son Ben £225,000 ($366,000) for the 2002 death of husband and father Ian Luck, although the NHS refused to accept any liability for his horrible death at the government-run Princess Alexandra Hospital in Essex.
“Shattered Lives: 100 Victims of Government Health Care” by Amy Ridenour and Ryan Balis published by the National Center for Public Policy Research, describes Ian Luck’s last unlucky days:
“Hospital staff neglected Luck, [who suffered from severe gastric problems, including an ulcer] frequently leaving him to lay in his own vomit and waste and failing to realize the severity of his increasingly-desperate state… Following surgery, Debra Luck was effectively left to look after his health and comfort.
‘No one wanted to help us. Every time we asked for pain relief, or to see a doctor, we were told to wait, or that we didn't know what we were talking about,’ she said.”
By this time Ian Luck was vomiting ten times an hour, but hospital staff refused to change him, forcing his wife to bring in clean clothes and bed linens. “As fast as I changed him he was sick again. The nurses were not interested in helping me.” Government nurses forgot to administer painkillers. Government doctors, who failed to keep a record of Ian’s treatment, failed to run more tests, but the hospital staff blocked Debra’s attempts to transfer her dying husband to a private hospital. Before a chest X-ray for a suspected collapsed lung they finally ordered could be performed, Ian suffered his second cardiac arrest and died.
And, like bureaucrats everywhere, nobody was held accountable.
“For all I know, the same appalling standard of care is still acceptable in that hospital,” Debra Luck told the Daily Mail. “If that is the case, then there will be more unnecessary deaths.”