It’s one of the most frightening experiences one could ever imagine. Waking up in a hospital where surgeons are on the verge of harvesting one’s organs because they believe the person is already dead – it actually happened. That was the nightmare a 41-year-old woman at St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center faced in 2009, according to the Syracuse Post Standard.
The New York Department of Health has issued a $22,000 fine to the hospital, stemming from this incident and another issue regarding improper procedures. This traumatic (and preventable) event began in 2009 when the patient was misdiagnosed as having a heart attack; she had gone into a coma after overdosing on Benadryl, a muscle relaxant and Xanax.
The second mistake occurred when medical staff declared her to be brain dead, which resulted in the family deciding to take her off life support. Yet the day before, a nurse ran a reflex test in which the patient’s toes curled.
Despite this development, the surgical procedure moved forward. But even before it started, there were additional signs indicating she was still alive, including movement of her tongue and lips. The procedure stopped when she opened her eyes.
The hospital is accused of not acknowledging reports from a nurse that the patient was improving, not providing proper treatment to reduce damage caused by the overdose and not taking sufficient brain scans. The patient never filed a lawsuit against the hospital. She eventually took her own life in 2011 more than a year after waking in the operating room.
The second incident that contributed to the $22,000 fine stemmed from an unattended patient who suffered a head injury in 2011.
When someone has been injured as a result of a healthcare provider’s negligence, compensation may be recoverable. To discuss options, contact the law firm of Gacovino, Lake & Associates.