I wanted to take a minute and tell you all about a story I recall in the very early times of Homestead when we had just a few experts. The case below is one of the reasons that motivates me each day, and it’s a constant reminder to me WHY we do what we do. The names below have been changed for HIPAA compliance.
Betty was 74 at the time that she was having complaints of vision loss and imbalance. So, she and her husband headed over to the local community hospital in rural Michigan. She sat for a few hours and eventually was seen by a doctor in the emergency room. Due to her symptoms, they ultimately put her on a stroke watch. They put Betty in a room and began to do a stroke watch on her doing vitals and a neurological examination every 30 minutes to determine if she was falling into a stroke.
Betty was being checked every 30 minutes between 7:30 pm and 9:30 pm. Two hours go by, and at 11:30 pm (missing three other required visits), a medical intern performed the stroke watch on Betty. Medical interns are not allowed to see patients alone under any circumstances. The intern noticed there were physical and cognitive changes in Betty and alerted the resident physician. At this time, Betty had all the classic symptoms of a stroke, such as slurred speech and an inability to follow simple commands.
The resident physician had to decide on whether to inject Betty with tPA. The only real fix for a stroke is an injection of a drug called tPA. The window to have tPA injected is typically 90 minutes from the onset of symptoms. If you can inject the drug within the window of 90 minutes, then the side effects of the stroke will be halted in their place with the possibility of full recovery. Unfortunately, Betty was now 2 hours into a life-altering stroke.
The resident then ordered a CT of the brain to confirm the stroke. However, because it was a community hospital and in the middle of the night, their mobile CT unit was not up and operational until the morning. So, the hospital chose to have Betty wait with them until the CT opened at 7:30 am. 8.5 hours since the initial onset of her symptoms. By now, she’s had a full-blown stroke, which was confirmed on the CT in the morning. By this time, there is nothing they can do, and their window to inject tPA or transfer the patient to higher-level trauma center has long passed. Betty’s damage is permanent.
Betty had never recovered after this, and her poor husband took the brunt of it having to take care of her. Betty lost her ability to walk, talk, feed herself, bathe, and had breathing issues due to the neurological damage the riddled her body. For all their pain and suffering, the hospital discharged her when it was clear she was not going to make a recovery. Also, while there, she had created a massive bill since they only had Medicare insurance and was responsible for covering 20% of tests. There was a medicare lien put on Betty and her treatment for $78,000.
Without any extra health benefits, her husband had to quit his job and become a full-time caregiver to his wife. Without any income and a large bill from the hospital, Betty and her husband were in jeopardy of losing their home. They realized that something felt odd about their situation, so they went to an attorney for a consultation. The information floored the attorney. He took the case right away and began searching on the web for a neurologist who specializes in stroke. That’s when he found Homestead and Dr. Roger Behar, who is the director of Stroke at St. Peter’s University Hospital.
On initial requests for settlement, the hospital had denied any wrongdoing. The attorney, knowing how wrongly his clients were treated, he began to take this case on pro bono. He had paid for all the expert services out of his pocket. With Dr. Behar’s help, they masterfully explained to a court full of people the breakdown in hospital policies and protocols that lead to the permanent damage Betty had. This lead to the maximum amount to be allowed in the state of Michigan: $700,000 dollars. After the attorneys cut and their payback to the Medicare lien, they had enough money to pay for their mortgage and put money away for future health concerns.
We don’t do what we do for our attorney clients… We do what we do for Betty and her husband.
We have many other stories on why we do what we do. I’ll be sharing them with you all, as I feel it’s good to know we aren’t just doing business here. We are fixing hospitals’ mistakes, defending wrongly accused physicians, making clarity of confusing hectic scenarios, all in hopes so the “Betty’s” can sleep peacefully with their loved ones.
We will to continue to serve you the best way we can so you deliver results to your clients.
Founder & CEO, Homestead Medical Experts