A MAN who tried to kill himself has successfully sued the hospital which saved his life for £90,000 damages.
Michael Dexter, of Orchard Drive, Oswaldtwistle, has received an out-of-court payout following a six-year legal fight with East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust.
Michael, now 58, had taken a cocktail of around 100 pills with rum and cola one morning in December 2002.
He was rushed to Blackburn Royal Infirmary after his wife Stephanie and young sons Martin and Trevor returned home to find he had overdosed.
His legal team argued that after arriving at A&E unconscious, Michael was given at least four times the correct dose of neutralising drugs – causing severe tissue damage to his right arm, which he described as "third degree burns".
He said: "I know they saved my life but if you went in with a heart attack you wouldn’t expect to leave with a limb you can’t use.
"I had to go to a burns specialist for plastic surgery. They removed tendons from the wrist and I have had three skin grafts.
"There are not many people who come out of hospital worse than when they went in."
Michael’s depression stemmed from having left a job of 23 years as an engineer for British Airways in order to move north.
He recalled: "I thought I had made a big mistake by moving up here. Some people do it to seek attention but I very much wanted to kill myself. I was quite ill."
Medical notes indicated that hours after he was admitted to hospital, Michael was given at least one 200ml dose of 8.4 per cent sodium bicarbonate through a catheter in his arm.
A report prepared by his solicitor with the help of an independent expert concluded that 50ml would be the usual dose if administered this way, and heavily diluted.
He claims he has lost 75 per cent use of his arm and has been unable to find work since despite trying to get jobs, including a roadsweeper.
Despite this the medical evidence produced failed to support a loss-of-earnings claim.
Michael added: "For months I was led to believe that I had pulled a tube out of my arm which made it burn. I left it at that for weeks and then somebody said this shouldn’t have happened and I should try and claim damages."
Personal injury lawyer Michael Heyes, of Haworth and Nuttall Solicitors, said: "No matter what the circumstances of how he got there, he was still entitled to be treated appropriately. I’m just happy that he’s got a reasonable amount."
Michael made a second attempt on his life three years later but feels he is just as entitled to compensation as any other patient who is treated negligently.
"A mental health problem is an illness like any other," he said.
"I cannot even cuddle my wife with my right hand now. I’m still able to drive but I have a job putting the keys in the ignition. I can’t dry glasses or cook dinners. I used to love gardening but I don’t do that now."
He added: "Most people would be rushing down the road or booking a holiday but the money hasn’t made me smile. I’m just empty. I didn’t do it for money, I did it for principles and the way I was treated."
A spokesman for East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust said: "We are pleased that a settlement has been agreed in respect of Mr Dexter’s claim. The Trust would like to wish Mr Dexter well for the future."