Contact 13 Investigates
Pharmacy board charges Western Home Care after lengthy investigation
Darcy Spears investigates oxygen tank dangers. Video by ktnv.comvideo
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- John Perrini will be on oxygen for the rest of his life.
Ironically, it's being put on oxygen -- originally just for sleep apnea -- that his family and his doctors say nearly killed him.
After John became deathly ill in late 2008, his family took a filter in for testing from his oxygen concentrator. It tested positive for a dangerous bacteria called pseudomonas. John's condition steadily worsened and he ended up having open heart surgery in May of 2010.
His doctor wrote this note saying John's heart problems were "most likely caused by pseudomonas found in the oxygen concentrator." The surgery took such a toll on him, he was placed on life support... twice.
Now his family is facing more than a million dollars in medical bills and John continues to live in fear because of the antibodies that are still in his system.
After a two and a half year long investigation, the Nevada State Board of Pharmacy on March 15th issued a "notice of intended action and accusation" against Western Home Care -- the company on East Post Road who provided John's oxygen concentrators.
The charges are based on the state's investigation, which found improperly serviced machines, and inaccurate and altered records.
For example, though Western's records show they replaced John's first oxygen concentrator with a "brand new machine" in January, 2009, the state found that machine had actually been sold to a company in Ohio or Florida.
Western's administrator Heath Hairr eventually admitted to the board that he was "uncertain how it got into their stock."
The pharmacy board also found dates had been altered on clinical notes, and they uncovered two sets of identical maintenance and tracking records. One had been altered to make it look like a filter had been replaced, when it actually hadn't.
The state's complaint found John's first oxygen concentrator had been rented to multiple patients with "no indication that it was serviced at all." And they also found the sticker on John's machine showed hundreds fewer hours of use than what was in Western's records.
When Hairr failed to return our multiple phone calls, Contact 13 went to Western Home Care for answers.
No one would talk with us, but here's what Heath Hairr said in November of 2009.
Nevada's state medical epidemiologist said in an email to Rita that the manufacturer "recommends to have each filter removed and cleaned at least once a week or even more frequently, depending on environmental conditions."
But he doesn't know if that statement was added to the operating manual after Contact 13's original investigation.