This weekend has been yet another one for the books, friends. What do you call it when a doctor refuses to let a patient have a close friend or family be present and ask clarifying questions during a medical consultation? One would think this passage from HIPAA might hold the answer:
Personal Representatives. The Privacy Rule requires a covered entity to treat a "personal representative" the same as the individual, with respect to uses and disclosures of the individual’s protected health information, as well as the individual’s rights under the Rule.84 A personal representative is a person legally authorized to make health care decisions on an individual’s behalf or to act for a deceased individual or the estate. The Privacy Rule permits an exception when a
covered entity has a reasonable belief that the personal representative may be abusing or neglecting the individual, or that treating the person as the personal representative could otherwise endanger the individual.
We've been having so much fun, it seems a press release was in order. If you comment on any articles about ER waiting times, please link back to this post. It's been helpful in bringing people here to learn about Jenny's cause.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DYING TEXAS WOMAN IGNORED BY ER STAFF FOR 12 HOURS
HOUSTON, Texas (January 20, 2014)
On January 14, 2014 a young Houston woman, Jenny, was ignored by a Houston Emergency Room’s (“ER”) staff for 12 hours despite a dangerously low blood pressure and alarming thyroid levels. On that January afternoon, Jenny’s home health nurse sent her to ER after Jenny’s blood pressure was dangerously low and she exhibited other potentially life-threatening symptoms. Jenny followed her nurses orders and went to the ER. Jenny sat in the ER waiting room, barely coherent due to her illnesses, for 12 hours before finally being examined by a doctor.
Even after ER doctors received Jenny’s lab reports that showed her dangerously low potassium levels, Jenny was left alone in the ER waiting room, without medical attention, for over 5 more hours. Once Jenny was finally moved to an ER exam room, it would be another 8 more hours, and at the incessant prodding of several Patient Advocates, before Jenny was finally admitted for treatment.
Dr. Richard Robinson, president of the Texas College of Emergency Physicians states, “Ironically the current environment in Texas seems to prove that the best medical centers and healthcare professionals in the world cannot help you if you are unable to access them in a timely manner.”
What happened to Jenny underscores Dr. Robinson’s comments and highlights the alarming report on Texas ER’s that was recently detailed in the 2014 American College of Emergency Physicians’ (“ACEP”)state-by-state report card on America’s ER’s (see: “REPORT: Texas receives D+ for its lack of emergency patient support”). In the “Access to Emergency Care” category, Texas ranked a disturbing 47th in the nation. That equates to an “F” on their report card: a failing grade. That “F” almost cost Jenny her life.
Jenny’s health crisis is a classic example of the revolving door in Texas health care. Jenny suffers from several serious disorders that have resulted in life threatening medical complications. She has been unable to receive specialized treatment for her illnesses because her insurance carrier refuses to approve and pay for her treatment, even though it is a covered benefit. This lack of necessary treatment has resulted in Jenny’s worsening symptoms and repeated (and costly) trips to the ER, where medical staff are untrained about how to treat the medical complications of Jenny’s disorders, so they often choose to ignore Jenny. Her experiences demonstrate a consistent failure by the staff to meet accepted standards of care for the treatment of her disorders which states clearly, “Hospitalization should occur before the onset of medical instability as manifested by vital signs, physical findings, or laboratory test results outside of the normal range.”
Dr. Robinson also states in his report: “Emergency physicians typically interact with patients experiencing an acute medical or surgical event. Many of these interactions are secondary to the failure of patients to receive health maintenance services for chronic conditions in time to prevent acute exacerbations thereby leading to emergency department visits.” This kind of “revolving door” health-care is merely a bandaid for a festering wound and cause patients like Jenny to deteriorate, suffer, and potentially die as a direct result.
Rosewood Ranch, a treatment center specializing in the treatment of Jenny’s life-threatening illnesses has offered to contract with Jenny’s insurance so she can receive the life-saving treatment she deserves. A bed has been waiting at Rosewood Ranch for four months. Despite numerous physicians urging Jenny’s placement at Rosewood, Jenny’s insurance continues to deny authorization. Meanwhile, Jenny continues to decline, trapped in a revolving door of trips to the ER where she sits and waits, and will likely die in the near future.
Cherie S. Monarch [email protected] (727) 422-3668
J. Denise Ouellette [email protected] (619) 602-5624