The Patient Lasted Only Minutes After Being Taken Off Life Support. Then Came The Horrifying Realization It Was The Wrong Person.
ProPublica investigates the sometime fatal consequences that come with patient identification errors, including one case where a family made the decision to take a patient off life-support only to realize after the autopsy that it was a stranger instead of their loved one.
The Wrong Goodbye
The neck brace held the unconscious man’s head at a 30-degree angle. The patient’s face — scraped and bruised — was largely covered with a plastic rig holding a breathing tube. Every two hours, hospital staff administered artificial tears. Shortly before midnight on July 13, 2018, police and hospital records show, the victim of a suspected drug overdose had arrived by ambulance at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx. Officers responding to a 911 call had found the man on the ground at the corner of East 174th Street and Bryant Avenue. CPR administered by the officers had managed to produce a pulse. A breathing tube had been inserted on the way to the hospital. (Sexton and Schweber, 10/31)
End-Of-Life Care Laws Were Supposed To Help New Yorkers. They Don’t Always Work.
The case of the wrong person being taken off life support at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx in 2018 is in many ways an aberration, a mix of bad luck, missed opportunities and unlikely coincidences. It thus only touched in a limited way on the complex, emotional and legally fraught issues surrounding end-of-life care — what patients are entitled to, what doctors are obligated to do and who is responsible for making sure everything is done appropriately. (Sexton, 10/31)