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Posted by Andrée d'Angelo
on November 03, 2000 at 22:13:24:
The following is a letter written to Group Health Cooperative regarding the death of my daughter.
I find it my responsibility and duty to bring to your attention a tragic and inexcusable accident that happened in your hospital.
My daughter Lorraine d'Angelo, a forty-five year old adult with Cystic Fibrosis, was a member of Group Health, Washington, for approximately 5 years. Late in the summer of 1999 she went to see Dr. Sandblum at Group Health Hospital in Renton regarding intestinal pains. He took x-rays and a Cat Scan and diagnosed her problem as intussussception, a not infrequent occurrence in C.F. patients, and consulted with Dr. Cook, who concurred. Together they scheduled an operation for the same afternoon and the surgery was performed as planned. But, to the surprise and embarrassment of the two physicians, they found the colon in good condition: the problem had resolved itself. The operation was not only rushed and premature, but totally unnecessary. Dr. Cook was very apologetic. He left soon on vacation. I have since found out that intussussception in C.F. adults is treated by a simple protocol described in C.F. medical research books which are easily available to the public. Unfortunately, neither physician talked to C.F. adult specialists prior to the operation. This blunder was the beginning of Lorraine's decline and eventual death.
Lorraine was on a lung transplant list at Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, Mi. scheduled for April, 2000. She was eager to be called as soon as an organ became available. The transplant plans gave her hope to live a longer life.
Lorraine was slowly recuperating from the intussussception operation when an infection developed in her liver. An exploratory operation was out of the question, since she was still too weak from her previous operation. On the basis of the results of a high numerical blood test, the doctors deducted that she no doubt had cancer. This was after four weeks on her back, intravenously fed, while doctors pondered as to what was the exact cause of the fever. Her C.F. condition worsened as time passed. The doctors' liver cancer diagnosis caused her to lose hope, as she would never be allowed to have a lung transplant if indeed she did have cancer. She felt that she was now dying, and she allowed herself to die on the false diagnosis of cancer. The end was quick - with her consent she was put on morphine for pain control. We requested an autopsy. There was no trace of cancer.
I blame her rapid and untimely death on the unnecessary surgery which taxed her body to extremes, along with the total mismanagement of her case.
Although there is no evidence of malice or intent, the end leaves me no solace. it took me many months to speak of the matter with calmness and objectivity. I think it is time to report this "hospital mistake", if only to keep other mistakes from happening.