22 Jun 2015

Wasp sting patient failed by nurse

6:48 pm on 22 June 2015

An inquiry has found a patient suffering from up to 15 wasp stings was put in more pain when a nurse failed to treat her properly.

A German wasp on a thistle flower (file photo)

Photo: 123RF

The woman became unconscious shortly after being given an antihistamine drug that should have been diluted.

She screamed in pain and complained of a burning sensation when the medicine was given at a clinic.

When she became drowsy and medical teams were unable to rouse her, she was taken by ambulance to a hospital

A deputy health and disability commissioner, Theo Baker, said the nurse did not check the intravenous medication with a qualified colleague.

According to her report, the woman disturbed a wasp next and was stung approximately 10-15 times on her face, neck, and right arm.

The patient first got help from her local pharmacy before seeing a doctor at a clinic in March 2014.

The pharmacy gave her a non-sedating antihistamine, paracetamol and ice packs before her husband drove her to the clinic.

In the report from Ms Baker, the nurse is quoted as saying:

"Whilst I know I failed to dilute the drug, I clearly recall that administered the syringe contents very slowly. I deliberately sat down, facing [the patient] whilst doing this to enable me to administer the drug very slowly and to better observe for any signs of an untoward reaction."

Ms Baker went on to say that the patient reported that the infusion "really hurt and she was in tears" and that it hurt so much she was screaming and she asked the nurse to stop.

In the report, the complainant said: "I gave every indication it was intolerable, I was crying, with my faced screwed up saying 'it's burning' and, 'Stop!' I'm not sure what else she expected from someone to alert her it was intolerable; if the doctor had advised me about burning, as he said he did, obviously I would've ordered her to stop immediately."

The investigation found that the antihistamine drug delivered intravenously - promethazine - must be diluted before it is administered to reduce the risk of vein irritation.

While the doctor's actions have not been faulted, he told Ms Baker he regretted not administering the medication personally.

After spending the night in hospital, the woman was discharged and diagnosed with thrombophlebitis - vein inflammation.

The nurse has been asked to apologise to the patient and complete extra training on delivering drugs intravenously.