In some situations, every minute counts for patients in hospitals, and mistakes can cost valuable time. It can be hard to place where the mistake occurred -- whether the details slipped through the cracks or the mistake was caused by some other error. Patients in every state, as well as in Maryland, hope that they will not fall victim to these types of mistakes, which can, unfortunately, lead to an untimely death.
Last October, a 65-year-old Vietnam veteran entered a hospital in another state for elective heart surgery. On his ninth day in the hospital, he called out for help, and a nurse found him on the bathroom floor breathing and with a pulse. The investigation notes that the patient began vomiting and became limp and unresponsive. Staff got him to his bed and tried to clear his airway, but there was confusion as to whether the patient was DNR, or do not resuscitate, as his wristband claimed.
The patient had never given a DNR order. There were several mistakes on the patient's wristband as well, including that he was at risk for choking and wandering off. It is not clear yet whether the mistakes were a clerical error or a software glitch. According to the investigators with the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General, two minutes passed between the moment the patient's heart stopped and CPR began, potentially costing him his life.
Confusion and mistakes in a hospital may lead to an untimely death for a patient. In Maryland, families of patient's who have suffered an untimely death have the right to pursue a lawsuit. A successful suit can result in compensation that can help pay for medical and funeral costs as well as assist with the pain and suffering the death has caused.