My opinion: I'm kind of surprised this occurred - I know diagnosis is often very difficult, but here it seems as if doctors ignored a variety of signs. Not to mention that there were some opportunities in which they could have treated her better, too. This makes me wonder if emergency rooms physicians sometimes feel so used to their environment, that it becomes easier to miss warnings. It is important to remember that, no matter the medical setting, each situation needs to be reviewed seriously in order to ensure the best possible treatment. Also, there may be a lack of effective communication between staff members, like when the doctors ignored the nurses' advice. Perhaps the state should also mandate that those involved receive training to help them avoid this again, although something tells me that the hospital is already doing so, if it hasn't let anyone go, yet. Any other potential causes of this mess? Feel free to comment.
St. Joe's "dead" patient awoke as docs prepared to remove organs
The state Health Department fined St. Joseph's Hospital $22,000 for nearly removing organs from a patient who was alive in 2009. (Photo by Paul Finch)
and James T. Mulder
Syracuse, NY - Doctors at St. Joseph's Hospital Health Center were about to remove organs for transplant from a woman they thought was dead.
Then she opened her eyes. She was alive.
The state Health Department found St. Joe's care of patient Colleen S. Burns in 2009 unacceptable and a federal agency criticized the hospital for not properly investigating the cause. The hospital's mishandling of the case was part of the reason the state Health Department fined St. Joe's $22,000 last September -- the largest fine levied against a Central New York hospital since 2002.
St. Joe's was fined $6,000 over the Burns case and $16,000 for leaving a patient unattended before she fell and injured her head in 2011.
The state could not find a case similar to the Burns case after reviewing the past 10 years of inspection records, a spokesman said.
A series of mistakes that began shortly after Burns arrived in the emergency room suffering from a drug overdose led to the near catastrophe, the investigations showed. A review by the state Health Department found:
*Staff skipped a recommended treatment to prevent the drugs the patient took from being absorbed by her stomach and intestines.
*Not enough testing was done to see if she was free of all drugs.
*Not enough brain scans were performed.
*Doctors ignored a nurse's observations indicating Burns was not dead and her condition was improving.