Published March 26, 2014
The former chief medic of the Formula 1 car racing series has claimed that "serious lapses in judgement" hindered the treatment of champion driver Michael Schumacher in the hours immediately following his skiing accident this past December.
Dr. Gary Hartstein made the claim in a post published Monday on his personal blog "A Former F1 Doc Writes" and cited "usually impeccable sources." Hartstein, who served as Formula 1 Medical Delegate between 2005 and 2012, did not specify what he believed the lapses to be, but wrote that they "could (and almost certainly did) worsen the outcome in Michael's case."
On Wednesday, Britain's The Sun newspaper reported that Schumacher was initially flown to the wrong hospital after hitting his head on a rock at the French Alpine resort of Meribel on December 29. The seven-time F1 champion was initially taken to a local clinic in the town of Moutiers before medics realized their mistake and took Schumacher to the University Hospital in Grenoble, where he has remained ever since.
The American-born Hartstein, who currently works as the Clinical Professor of Anesthesia and Emergency Medicine at the University of Liege Hospital in Belgium, discussed other aspects of Schumacher's situation in his post. Hartstein called a report that Schumacher had lost 25 percent of his pre-accident body weight while hospitalized "entirely possible, and in fact, probable."
On January 30, doctors at the Grenoble facility started reducing the level of Schumacher's sedation in an attempt to get him to wake up from the medically induced coma in which he'd been placed for the preceding month. Earlier this month, a report in Britain's Daily Telegraph said that the driver's family had been told that "only a miracle" could save his life. Schumacher's spokeswoman, Sabine Kehm, has also denied reports of complications with the "wake-up" process.
In his post, Dr. Hartstein also expressed his opinion that Schumacher is in what he calls a "persistent coma" due to it lasting two months after the initial traumatic event. "The life expectancy for a comatose patient who does not improve neurologically," Dr. Hartstein says, "is measured in months to a relatively few years."