Wrongful Death in Hospitals

By the way, click on “menu” to see other posts on this site.  The other posts are there because I was getting my feet wet before I took the plunge into the pool of words which is my book “The Sum of Everything”; named so because my son was “everything” and he died June 16th 2011 at the University of Washington Hospital.  According to a slew of lawyers it was considered a wrongful death.  It is only because we walked away from the mediation and any settlement that I am able to talk about this freely.

In the U.S. 500,000 people die in hospitals from errors in their care.  The epidemic started around the year 2010.   Why? Hospitals are overcrowded and the work load on doctors is horrendous.  But that is only part of the answer.  As in my son’s case, he was awaiting insurance coverage for a drug that only ICU could manage.  During that time not one of his doctors came to see him.  He had been in the hospital 4 weeks at that point.  He never cried but he sat up in bed, wires tumultuously attached to his body and leading to a monitor or IV.  I came into his room and sat on the bed.  He looked so sad.  No mother should have to endure a sick child in the hospital.  He threw his weight on me and hugged me “mom, I want to come home.  I want to take a 5 hour bath and I just want to be home”.  We had a large beautiful home and even though he was 27 he knew he would come home with us vs returning to his apartment in Queen Anne.  I dared not cry or I would have detonated.

The two lung specialists who were his major care, or perhaps a cardiology team wrote an order.  To this day the University of Washington Hospital will not tell us who wrote the order that ultimately killed my son.  They had written to the nurse mind you (not another doctor) to remove his drug called Flolan with no titration down.  Later when I went on their website I learned that one should not stop that drug for even 2 minutes lest the patient go into cardiac arrest and die.  That fateful night at 8 pm, the pharmaceutical company showed up with the drug they wanted to replace the Flolan.  The order had said to stop the Flolan for an hour.

I left him that night thinking that I was picking him up the next day to come home.  He had orders to go home on the 10th.  Instead I walked into his room the day before he died.  He was hunched over for lack of oxygen brough on my the absence of the Flolan.  They wanted to do a forced oxygen but he begged them to use an alternative because it made him feel he was suffocating.  They decided to intibate him which means he would have a breathing tube installed through the mouth.  He looked at me and I smiled to give him strength.  I didnt want him to think I was afraid.  He said to me “I’ll be fine Mom”.  Those were the last words I ever heard him utter.

The next day he went into cardiac arrest 3 times and the 3rd time he was gone.  I dont remember much so my sister is my memory.  She told me I screamed and screamed.  I dont remember.  I did go into his room where they had covered all the wires with sheets so only his face showed.  It was my last time seeing him.  His cheeks were rosey as if he were alive.  I had always said to him at night “I love you more than the sun, the moon and the stars”.  So I whispered that into his ear and I prayed he heard me.

I am crying as i write this because he is not here.  I cannot call him or see him or touch his skin.  In 5 years I learned to cope as best I can; watching movies, starting projects, moving to Phoenix where the sun shines (from Seattle).  No matter where I go, he is always with me and he is always part of me.

I love you Alex.

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