OLG Hamm: In the event of blindness, arm fixation is required

OLG Hamm: In the event of blindness, arm fixation is required

Hamm (jur). If a patient is blind, it may be necessary to fix the dialysis needle in order to prevent a life-threatening change in the position of the needle, the Higher Regional Court (OLG) Hamm decided in a judgment announced on Wednesday, March 2, 2016 (file number: 26 U 18/15 ). Thereafter, routine treatment procedures must always be tailored to the respective patient.

Specifically, it was about a 67-year-old patient from Arnsberg who had to undergo dialysis three times a week in a nephrological practice in the Sauerland region. As a result of his diabetes, the man was blind. Despite his blindness, the man was treated as routinely as other dialysis patients.

A fatal mistake then occurred in June 2014. A dialysis needle attached to the left upper arm loosened, causing severe bleeding. The patient was still resuscitated, but died in the hospital the following day.

The husband's wife complained that, despite his health restrictions, her husband was not being properly monitored and was receiving emergency treatment too late. For the heirs, including her three children, she claimed damages and compensation for pain and suffering in the amount of 5,000 euros.

In its judgment of February 16, 2016, the Higher Regional Court largely agreed with the applicant. The defendant doctors were obliged to pay compensation for pain and suffering in the amount of 5,000 euros and the funeral costs of around 2,700 euros.

The patient's arm should have been fixed because of its blindness in order to prevent the dialysis needle from slipping from the outset. Because the position of a properly attached needle can change life-threatening in rare cases - for example when the patient moves. If a needle then slipped off, the patient could bleed out in a few minutes.

In the specific case, the patient lost a liter of blood within just three minutes. However, since he was blind, he was unable to raise the alarm in time. Dialysis practice should therefore have fixed the arm as a special measure to prevent the needle from slipping off.

However, the OLG Hamm emphasized that permanent monitoring should not be required in general in the case of restricted patients. According to experts, hourly monitoring is usually sufficient, but sometimes more often in patients with circulatory instability.

The fact that the fixation could not take place against the will of a patient does not preclude the obligation to pay compensation. In the case of blind patients, it is imperative to inform about the required fixation before starting treatment, according to the OLG. (fle / mwo)

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