On May 3rd 2013 our mother presented at the TEGH Emergency Department by ambulance. I am her daughter who arrived with her. She was complaining of severe stomach pains. I have to mention that she also had end stage lung cancer and recently completed radiation to which she responded positively. Once in the emergency department, our mother was placed in the resuscitation room and was given an oxygen mask, oxymeter on her finger and she was hooked up to a heart monitor. She was diagnosed with sepsis, which is a potentially life-threatening complication of an infection. When she arrived, she was somewhat disoriented but when she was placed on oxygen, given antibiotics, she seemed to stabilize, so much so, she asked me to get her a tea. I must also mention my brother and only sibling was also with us. I went to get my mother a tea only to return to her….in another ‘non-urgent’ room with no breathing assistance or heart monitor on her. She was sitting at the side of the bed, pounding her fist on the bed, telling us and the nurses that she couldn’t breathe. Long story short, my mother was ignored. We were ignored by the nurses AND the doctor, when we complained to them many times to give our mother AIR and that she seemed to be doing fine before, please put the mask back on her!!! We were ignored!!! We were causing such a commotion, security was called. They cared more about their security than listening to our mother’s cries for air. They continued to tell us that she should breath through her nose not her mouth and that she will be fine once she is in her room(admitted). We were beside ourselves and frantic as our mother continued to fight for air, her face was red and she could hardly speak. We finally got our mother on the bed, in a raised position and the orderly began to wheel her to her room, with my brother and I in tow carrying her belongings. When we got in the hallway, we ran ahead of the bed so our mother could see us and when we did, we saw our mother, slumped to the side and unresponsive. She had died in the hallway of the TEGH. We yelled at the orderly to get help while my brother and I franticly pushed our now deceased mother back to the emergency department. I began doing CPR on her while wheeling her back to the emergency department. About a minute later the doctor finally showed up, and asked us if we wanted her resuscitated. (I know all this sounds too good to be true, but unfortunately, it is very true and not exaggerated). My brother and I were flipping out, yelling DO YOUR JOB.
‘she wouldn’t be dead if you hadn’t ignored us’. Long story short, she was resucciated but never regained consciousness and was placed in intensive care where I believe our reputation preceded us in that we caused a commotion in the emergency department….and were treated like third class citizens by the nursing staff and doctors in the ICU. Sad but very true. I realize that being a doctor/nurse is a very demanding job, but when told someone can’t breath, common sense would dictate a response other than indifference. There are many more deplorable details, too many to recount in this forum. My brother and I are retired police officers and have been exposed to many unbearable situations and I feel we handled ourselves the best way we could given the circumstances, but something has to change where the hospitals emergency departments and healthcare professional standards are concerned. Both my brother and I still cannot believe what happened to our mother and pray that it won’t or hasn’t happened to anyone else. It happened a year ago, and it is still difficult to accept.