Letter to Editor:
Physicians and staff at Lower Keys Medical Center did not contact my primary care physician after I requested so three times during my more than two days in the intensive care unit following an emergency admission on August 18, 2014. On August 20, after not having heard from my primary care physician, my partner, Rick Boettger, reached him, Dr. Jack Norris, and Dr. Norris called me on my hospital room telephone. He had no idea until then that I had been hospitalized and treated in the emergency department and the ICU. That day Rick insisted that I be discharged because, he said, he feared they would kill me. He has my medical power of attorney*.
I was fearful because the doctors there made some assumptions about my health that were mistaken. I told them, “Don’t take my word for it! Call Dr. Norris. He can tell you all about it!” Nevertheless, acting on their mistaken assumptions, and ignoring me, they proceeded to prescribe powerful pharmaceuticals for conditions I did not have – pharmaceuticals that, like most, have potentially dangerous side effects.
I refused the medications and even signed a statement to that effect. Presumably, a record of that is on file at the hospital records department.* Had they consulted my primary care physician, none of that would have been necessary. Rick and I were very concerned that they were administering other powerful drugs, without our knowledge, that I did not need. The nurses were introducing liquids into my IV periodically. I desperately wanted them to discuss my treatment with Dr. Norris, who knows my health history completely and would have enabled vital continuity of care.
LKMC’s own printed “Patient’s Bill of Rights” specifically includes the right to have the patient’s primary care provider notified upon admission. My three requests went unanswered.
*An additional serious problem came to light during this ordeal. On August 2, 2008, Attorney Ben Harrison executed for me and for Rick our Declaration of Living Will and Designation of Health Care Surrogate (each other). Right away I hand delivered the completed documents to LKMC’s records department, personally giving them to a records employee who said she would scan them into our respective files there.
When I was admitted to the ER in 2014 (with Rick by my side), I told them of the medical power of attorney document on file there and that Rick was authorized to make medical decisions on my behalf. It was NOT on file there. He had to leave my side and go home to obtain our hard copy of the document filed there and fetch it back to the hospital, so he could legally oversee my care. Somebody really dropped the ball on that one! It make me wonder what else they overlooked or lost or whatever.
I authorize Harry Bethel to release this document to whomever he deems may be effective in persuading LKMC to follow its own policies and procedures by notifying all patients’ primary care providers immediately upon admission to the emergency department.
Cynthia W. Edwards