I am submitting this formal complaint regarding a recent experience in the ER at FMC on the night of Monday, June 8th. My friend, a 49 yo female, was brought in to the ER by amublance at approximately 2330 hrs on the night of June 8th with a closed head injury sustained in a fall down some stairs in her home.
The EMTs brought her in and she was placed in the “intake area” of the ER (not the waiting area for those coming in off the street, but the “intake area” behind admitting).
There were numerous patients and their accompanying care-givers seated in the waiting area of this space near the nursing station. My friend was in a wheelchair and was parked in this area and left there waiting to be seen. She was in a great deal of pain, and as the hours ticked by, more and more uncomfortable seated in a wheelchair with no head support and no way to get comfortable enough to rest. Not one member of the medical staff approached us at any time. No one checked her vital signs, no one offered her a blanket, or a sip of water. When she needed a blanket (because she was shivering) – I had to get it. When she needed a basin to vomit – I had to get it.
I approached the nursing station at 0300 and asked if she could please be seated in one of the available reclining chairs or placed on an available stretcher. I was abruptly told “no, those are for patients undergoing tests, and your friend is 8 patients down the list to be seen!”.
At 0630, I approached the desk for another update – still, no one had taken her vital signs and she was still seated in a wheelchair – 7 hours after being brought in by ambulance. When I asked for the update at 0630, the nurse could not locate her in their computer system and discovered that she had been “discharged without being seen” at approximately 0530!!!!
We had been seated a mere 3 feet away from the nursing station the entire time – but they had gone looking for her in the front foyer waiting area of the ER and when they couldn’t find her there, assumed she had left the building without being seen and discharged her.
There was a scramble while they put her back in the system, gave her a stretcher and prioritized her to be seen by a physician.
As a certified First Aid Instructor, I had been monitoring her neurological signs all night long to ensure that no deterioriation in her condition was occuring. It frightens me beyond belief to think what may have happened if a brain injury had been left to progress, unnoticed, for the 7 hours that we sat there being ignored. She could have lapsed into a coma, which the inattentive staff could have mistaken for a sleeping patient, and her life may have ended or been altered for an eternity by irreverible brain damage.
If I had not been there to advocate for her, would she still be sitting there waiting to be seen??
I feel compelled to add, that my friend was not the only patient who was ignored or treatly poorly that evening. We witnessed numerous incidents of rude treatment completely lacking in care and compassion expected of medical professionals. Truly disgraceful!