MANNHEIM, GERMANY: An elderly woman was arrested after she allegedly switched off a hospital roommate’s ventilator twice simply because the sound of the life-saving machine annoyed her. The 72-year-old woman, who has not been identified for legal reasons, was put behind bars on suspicion of attempted manslaughter following the incident at a hospital in Mannheim on Tuesday evening, November 29.
German law enforcement and prosecutors said that the suspect allegedly switched off a 79-year-old woman’s ventilator before she was told by staff that it was vital for the patient. Nonetheless, the perp switched the machine off again later in the evening. The older patient had to be revived and continues to receive intensive care, albeit her life is not in danger.
The 79-year-old bedridden neighbor was relying on the oxygen supply, authorities said in a statement on Thursday, December 1. A joint press release published by the Mannheim public prosecutor’s office and Mannheim police alleged that the woman switched off the ventilator before 8 pm local time after she “felt disturbed by the noise coming from the oxygen device.” The statement continued, “Although the suspect was informed by the hospital staff that the oxygen supply was a vital measure, she is said to have switched off the device again around 9 pm.” As reported by the Associated Press, the suspect was arraigned before a judge on Wednesday, November 30, and later put in jail.
A 72-year-old woman has been arrested after she allegedly switched off a hospital roommate’s ventilator – twice – because she was annoyed by the sound it made, authorities in Germany said Thursday. https://t.co/oDSyvwBkkz
— The Associated Press (@AP) December 1, 2022
Ventilators are meant for patients who are unable to breathe without help. The devices, which artificially blow oxygen into the lungs of patients, became essential for saving the lives of critical patients during the Covid-19 outbreak, which has claimed more than six million lives to date. According to the Daily Mail, it is unclear what the 79-year-old patient was suffering from when her ventilator was disconnected. That said, about 25,000 German patients across the country are reportedly on ventilators.
As mentioned, tens of thousands of new machines were ordered during the height of the pandemic in 2021. The lungs of serious Covid-19 patients are clogged with fluid and thus compromised, leaving patients gasping for breath. To support breathing, doctors insert a 10-inch plastic tube from the machine to push oxygen through the mouth and into the lungs. This makes ventilators invasive. Furthermore, doctors give sedatives to patients placed on the machine.
Other simpler machines exist, which are neither invasive nor do they need patients to be on sedatives. For example, breathing masks used in sleep apnea — a sleeping disorder where people struggle to breathe at night. These night-time masks fit over the nose or mouth. A continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine gently pushes air into the mouth and throat keeping the airways open. Generally, doctors begin helping patients suffering from low oxygen levels with this non-invasive breathing support. Only when they fail do doctors turn to invasive ventilators.