Before I begin our horror story, please indulge me a moment and let me tell you a bit about Charlotte Jean VanKirk-Butcher. She had the kindest, gentlest nature and there is not one person who knew her, that did not have a story to share about how Charlotte made them feel SPECIAL. She was an accomplished vocalist and pianist. She was a devote Christian and NEVER was the door to heart not open. The greatest and the least among us, she loved us all. If you'd like an even better description of Charlotte, please read Proverbs 31, "The Wife of Noble Character." It is so fitting and so true of her. We have come to accept that God has taken her home and in that we find our ONLY comfort.
Charlotte died a senseless death at the hands of an unprofessional and uncaring hospital staff. She was admitted to the emergency room of a local hospital here in Sarasota, Florida, on Wednesday, February 2, suffering from severe back pain. We never left her side during the course of this visit. Her blood pressure reached a dangerously low (85/61) level and set off the monitor alarm on a several occasions, at which time I had to RETRIEVE the nurse who curtly dismissed any concern I had by saying that the readings were inaccurate due to the positioning of Charlotte's arm. She also added insensitively, that "the EKG tapes and blood pressure tapes would be reviewed in a day or two and we would be contacted at that time if anything of concern was discovered." Charlotte was, during 95% of her time in the Emergency Room, UNOBSERVED, and all the while, HEAVILY sedated with pain medication. Even as heavily sedated as she was, there were moments during her ER stay that she awakened from the severe pain. The doctor who examined my mother, called for a urinalysis, to determine whether she may have had a kidney stone or kidney infection. NO FURTHER TESTS WERE RUN.
Despite several requests to keep her overnight for observation, she was sent home. The hospitals uncaring attitude was blatantly evident when my mother was placed in a wheelchair and my father told to take her home. The doctor said that he believed it was the onset of shingles and that we were to monitor her for signs of a rash within the following day or so.
My father was given no assistance in getting my mother from the ER hospital room to the car, despite the fact that she could not even sit up straight, due her sedation. When he asked the nurse for a blanket, (as mom was brought into the ER via ambulance and only in her pajamas), the nurse responded by tossing a blanket on my mothers lap and walking away. As I returned from placing a phone call, I discovered my father struggling to keep my mother upright in the wheelchair, in the lobby of the emergency room. To my horror, he told me they had said we were to go home. An ORDERLY at the hospital, seeing the condition my mother was in, stopped as we were discussing our situation, and inquired as to "where we thought we were going." When we explained to him we were told to take my mother home, he stated that "she should be going nowhere in her condition" and instructed us "to wait right where we were as he went to get a supervisor." The SUPERVISOR, upon arriving, said that my mother should not be discharged and took us back into the ER. When we returned to the ER wing, my father, myself and the supervisor, were abruptly addressed by my mothers attending nurse who stated, "we want her to go home in this condition in order for her to sleep. Her vital signs have been checked." Again, we were told to leave, and again, given no assistance.
My mother slept once home, though not restfully, as at times she would sit bolt upright with pain, from approximately 2:00 p.m. when she was given her pain medication at the hospital, (we were discharged at 4:00 p.m.), until 5:15 a.m. on Thursday. During the evening Wednesday, all day Thursday, Thursday night, and on into Friday morning, I remained awake and by my mothers side. She was never free of the pain she was experiencing. We contacted my mothers regular physician the morning of Friday, February 4, and had him call the hospital to alert the staff of our arrival and request a thorough examination. Upon our arrival, two doctors examined my mother and with the help of a Ultrasound, discovered an ANEURYSM located in her aorta. A vascular surgeon arrived to perform an immediate operation and as Charlotte was being prepared for surgery, the aneurysm ruptured. At that time, a respiratory team was called repeatedly to respond to her room for over 10 minutes, and NO TEAM EVER APPEARED. All these events led to my mothers untimely death.
My mothers condition COULD HAVE and SHOULD HAVE been discovered during the initial visit to the emergency room on Wednesday, February 2. Even though she may have had only a slight chance for survival, a slight chance would have been preferable to NO CHANCE AT ALL!!
PLEASE do not ignore any symptoms you may have. DO NOT let THEM tell YOU, YOU tell THEM and MAKE THEM LISTEN. If you find yourself in the situation I was in, DO NOT allow the nurse to humble you and stifle your questions. If you aren't getting satisfactory answers to legitimate questions, SCREAM UNTIL YOU DO!!!
We will be seeking answers and demanding that responsibility be taken for this senseless tragedy. Please pray for us as we endeavor to right this wrong, for we would like it to be known that this action IS NOT being taken in the interest of monetary gain, but rather in the hopes that it will shed some light on MALPRACTICE and perhaps prevent a future, heart wrenching loss of this magnitude.
Return to contents
Return to Aneurysm & AVM Support