This post is dedicated to my mother, Shirley June Holderness. I watched her die from medical errors in the southern California town of Loma Linda. She fought valiantly for seven weeks to live, before succumbing to septic shock from the hospital acquired infections that the physicians refused to treat. She had just had her 66th birthday.
My mother was admitted to the hospital due to a heart attack. She had a stent placed and her heart function returned to completely normal functions. It was the infections she caught in this hospital, and the refusal to treat the infections that killed her. On admission to the hospital, my mother was tested for infection in her blood, urine and sputum; these test reveled that she did not have any infection. The three infections she caught in the hospital were MRSA, Acinetobacter baumannii and yeast. Later, her records revealed the physician ignored the lab results and refused to treat these infections for days before she went into septic shock and was put on life support, and even then the physician refused to give her the correct antibiotics for 12 more hours.
As an ICU RN I knew the mistakes they were making. I begged for the correct treatment, and when the physicians refused, I tried to transfer my mother out of there. My mother’s regular physicians did not practice at this Loma Linda hospital, and they wanted her transferred to a hospital they practiced at. The physicians at the Loma Linda hospital would not cooperate, they would not speak to my mother’s own physicians, or give them her medical chart, which is necessary before transferring.
As if that wasn’t enough, when my mother died from this Loma Linda’s hospitals errors, I had to get the county coroners office to subpoena my mothers body and records out of the hospitals morgue. The hospital did not notify the crematory to come and pick up her body, although they had been given all the details several times and it was also noted in her chart. I called the crematory the next day and was told the hospital never notified them, but they said they would send drivers to pick her body up immediately. About an hour later, the crematory called me and apologized, “I do not know how to tell you this because it has never happened to us before, but the hospital refused to allow our drivers to pick up your mothers body. Our drivers told us that two physicians were in the morgue fighting over who was going to sign the death certificate.” The hospital did not cooperate with my request either, so I had to call an attorney and get the county coroners involved. Even with the county coroners subpoena, it took three days for them to get my mothers records.
I pursued a lawsuit in spite of many California attorneys telling me that this particular hospital, an ‘icon of the community’, had the largest defense team in California, and ‘…they will make sure you spend more than you can ever recover…’ due to California’s outdated laws from the ’70′s. My mother’s own physicians, that had known her a long time, told me I needed to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit. I spent a lot of money, only to discover what all the attorneys tried to tell me was true. The medical industry lets you down because the legal industry already has. I didn’t have enough money to continue. The attorney did not charge, but I had to pay for legal experts and other costs, and they are very expensive. California’s CAP laws are responsible for many cases of poor care, deaths and disabilities being swept under the rug, and by no means does this outdated law bring about improvements in patient safety.
I still have my mothers medical records with proof all of this happened, and will gladly share them in the right situation.
My real education as a nurse began the day my mother was admitted to this Loma Linda, California, hospital.
I had the highest respect for my mother’s life, although the medical and legal community did not. She taught me to respect everyone’s life, and that is why this nurse will speak for the patients.