Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The latest on my heart, my pacemaker and incompetence at Tulane Medical

You may remember that a few months back, in April, I had a little heart incident and ended up at the nightmarish Tulane Hospital, where they refused to release me but also didn't have time to treat me. Eventually, I called a lawyer and they finally found the time to do the relatively simple procedure of switching my old pacemaker for a new one. After I blogged about the experience, I began to hear from former and current employees, all of whom confirmed that the poor treatment I received was not only a violation of basic standards, including HIPA, but also par for the course at Tulane. In fact, within a week of my release, the substandard "over-flow" area that I had been trapped in was cleared out--but only for a day, to keep an accreditation team from seeing what goes on.

Meanwhile, employees concerned about losing their jobs had a series of meetings with me in which they apologized for the care I'd received. The head of one department asked me if I would come in and talk to the staff and part of a training, so that they would understand what not to do. This seemed like a strange request, but I agreed to it anyway, because I was pretty certain the woman had no intention of contacting me again. She just didn't want to deal with a potential lawsuit. And, of course, I was right. She walked away feeling that she'd covered her ass and needed be bothered with keeping her word.

Another thing happened immediately after leaving the hospital: my pacemaker began pacing my diaphragm instead of my heart. I knew why: they had an inexperienced staff member insert the leads in my chest and one was so misplaced that the supervising doctor instructed him to removed it and try again. Apparently the lead was still misplaced. But when I returned to have this corrected, everyone insisted it was normal and fine, and they lowered the voltage of the pacemaker so that the diaphragn wouldn't be bothered anymore. I asked if it was still able to pace my heart, and the doctors assured me it was fine.

Last month I went for a check up with my new cardiologist, who had already expressed befuddlement at the records from my Tulane stay and the mountain of medications that they had put me on. Now, three months after implantation, they had a Medtronic rep in to check the pacemaker's record of activity and other settings. Ooops, it turns out that it wasn't capturing on one side! Why? Because the voltage had been turned down.

Anyone else have any stories about treatment at Tulane that they'd like to share?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Before I moved here, my friend and I were on vacation. She slipped and busted her chin open on the sidewalk. The closest ER was Tulane. We went there, they glued up the cut, but forgot to clean the wound. It got majorly infected and it wasn't until 2 months later the Indianapolis doctors were able to get an X-ray clear enough to see that her jaw was broken. And Tulane, to this day, almost two years later, still refuses to send her any of her medical records.