This is the email that I sent to several folks at the Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center:
I wanted to write to your establishment about the services we received at the Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center.
Both my Father and Mother were admitted to your hospital the week of May 3, 2010. My Mother was admitted for what turned out to be blood clots on her lungs. She also has been suffering for years with COPD. My Father was admitted for what turned out to be a small stroke.
My Sister, Missy lives with my Father and Mother full time so was here to see them both to the hospital. My other Sister, Kathy and myself, Kelly live in San Francisco so we came up here Wednesday, May 5.
Upon our arrival we found both Mom and Dad on the third floor of the Medical Center. Not long after our arrival, my Sisters and I talked to the nurse and doctor (Dr. Carter). We were given some information, but it seemed pretty sketchy. In other words, we were having a hard time getting an answer from anyone. The only helpful people we found were the Certified Nursing Assistants who were on duty. At one point my Sister and I went to the nurses’ station to find out when Dr. Carter would be making rounds. We were told that Dr. Carter was very “random” and only sees patients who are being discharged. This went on the entire time Mom and Dad were there until Dr. Carter showed up and said they would be discharged.
After a few days of much confusion, both my parents were sent home. That was on Friday, May 7. Upon getting them both home and comfortable, my Sister went to the pharmacy to fill their prescriptions. Two of the prescriptions for both Mom and Dad were injections of Lovenox that were to be administered by your fine institution on Saturday, May 8 and Sunday, May 9.
On Saturday, May 8, we brought Mom and Dad to your Infusion Center with the injections of Lovenox prescriptions. We were promptly told that it was hospital policy not to take medications from patients and that the Infusionist would need to put in an order for the Lovenox injections. How odd, since it was the doctor at your hospital that gave us the prescriptions for the Lovenox. I would also add that in addition to my Mom's COPD, she also suffers from two broken vertebrae so getting her in the car for the journey to the hospital was no small feat. So, since I have given my cat injections before, we decided to take our parents home and administer the injections ourselves.
Later that morning my Mother woke up with excruciating stomach pain. We called paramedics who brought her back to your fine institution's emergency room where she was seen by Dr. Tillitt. Dr. Tillitt was very up front about my Mom’s condition. He would do a CT Scan to see what was going on. The diagnosis was she was bleeding from her spleen. Since she was not a candidate for surgery, that left little for the doctors to do. We were then consulted by Dr. Craig Rau. He pretty much let us know the options. Mom chose to not take any invasive action and that she would be made comfortable with no pain or suffering until she died. Dr. Rau guessed that to be within days. So back to the third floor Mom went. You can imagine our hesitation of wanting her to go back to the third floor's care at your hospital.
Dr. Rau put my Mother on “comfort care” which he said she would be given pain medications and anti-depressants. Again, to reiterate, that she would not be in pain or suffering. Once she got up to her room the pain kept coming. I talked to one nurse and tried to explain what Dr. Rau had told us about keeping Mom pain free. Right away the nurse became defensive and asked if I was a doctor or a nurse. Actually, I was asked that more than once…which in my mind has no bearing on wanting my Mother to get the proper dosage of pain medication so she would not be in pain or suffering.
The next day, Dr. Rau came to visit. He is a very kind and compassionate man, which is more than I can say for most of your nursing staff. He asked Mom if she was in pain and she said yes. He told her that she should not be in pain and needs to let them know. We all simultaneously said, "WE HAVE BEEN". Then we find out that in addition to the pain medication she has been getting by injection, that there was a standing order for her to receive a Morphine drip that would keep her on a steady flow of pain relief. To say the least, Dr. Rau was embarrassed and apologized that his orders had not been followed.
By day three, Mom was still having pain. Dr. Rau visited again and was quite irritated that the nursing staff still had not been following his orders. All this time she was not supposed to be in pain, nor was she to suffer. I can not tell you how helpless my Sister's and I felt to have to watch my Mother's horrible pain and suffering!
Again, we were visited by Dr. Rau. Evidently, he went and had a talk with your nursing staff because my Mother was finally given what she needed to relieve her pain. This was by accomplished by the Morphine drip. She was also to get a pill by mouth if her pain spiked, but only if she could swallow.
On the evening of May 10, I received a call from my Sister who was staying the night with Mom. She said that a nurse, Suzanne, came in with the pill, Mom was obviously sleeping with her mouth open. The nurse tossed the pill into Mom’s mouth and yelled “SWALLOW, SWALLOW” and then left the room. My Sister had to fish the pill out of Mom’s mouth and wake her up so she could take the pill with water.
I do not know the last name of this "nurse" Suzanne, nor do I care. I am horrified and shocked at the actions of this nurse. I can only think of her behavior as cruel and inhumane!
Our Mother died in your hospital the morning of May 11. To know that most of the time she was supposed to be made comfortable and pain free, she spent suffering because of your inept and uncaring nursing staff. This is the memory we are left with.
I have nothing but good things to say about Dr. Rau, Dr. Tillitt and the entire staff of your emergency room.
There is nothing your fine institution can do to heal the wounds of my family, but I would appreciate some sort of response to my email.
So, maybe we'll get free healthcare for life...Ummmm, no thank you!