Sept 30, 2013
In September of 2013 my father of 90 years went into heart failure and entered Salem Memorial Hospital in Salem, Oregon. Due to heart difib and a very weak heart it was decided to put in a pik line at his neck on his left side to put stimulants into the heart to see if they could boost the heart function enough to rev things up and see if he would stablilize. We were told it had to be a very sanitary procedure.
After the pik line he stablized a bit.
Hospital staff told us that all his organs were failing and that he didn't have long to live. I did not agree with this and asked them to run a test on the kidneys. Staff said he was on palpative care and hospice ready to be sent home (as in dying) and so they wouldn't do the test though they made the claims that his organs were failing with NO evidence that was happening. I contacted Salem Hospital Patient Advocates who asked about the case and in the end the doctors did do the test and his kidneys were functioning normally.
Dad rallied, he went home on hospice and next morning was sitting up flipping the tv remote.
But the following morning my brother called me and said he was slipping, that his neck was distorted. I went to the house and the first thing I saw was that he had a very large infection originating at the site of the pik line. I immediately called an ambulance and took him back to Salem hospital. When the ambulance crew arrived, the first thing the paramedic said was, "Looks like a needle site infection."
The attitude at emergency was incompetent. The doctor on duty decided that it was an infection and was thinking it was an abcess. Of course it had no time to form an abcess. The infection swelling was pushing his head to his right and was as big around as an outspread hand and an inch thick at least. So the doctor said, "Lets see if we can drain it". She takes a very large drainage needle and puts it into his face and starts probing around. This was extremely painful and my father bunched up his face and his heart monitor showed him blasting around in defib again. I pointed to the monitor and told the doctor, "Your putting him in defib again." Realizing she was facing an angry audience she said, "I think I'll just leave it and not cause him any more discomfort."
He was moved to a room and put on antibiotics. A sample was taken. It came back that he had a massive MRSA infection. The antibiotics kicked in and Dad rallied and spoke to us again. He wanted to go home. The infection went down. He went home, but exhausted and with less energy than his first time home, he soon began sleeping a lot, could not talk much longer and passed away a couple days later.
I asked Salem Hospital about the MRSA infection they gave him and if the Dr. Tate had been informed up on the fifth floor that his patient had contracted a MRSA infection. The hospital seemed to laugh it off and say how much they had MRSA infections under control. I asked them if they tested staff or each patient as they came in. NO, but they assured me they knew all about MRSA.
I asked the patient advocacy office if they had informed the doctor on fifth floor about the MRSA infection? They now threw up every barrier to me finding out anything or moving anything. I had to have right of access as next of kin, blah blah blah. They had no concern about the infection their hospital had caused and no indication that anything was being done so it would not happen in the future. They were hiding behind any chance possible.
I did find out that Salem Hospital charged medicare for the MRSA infection their sloppy work caused and the treatment to get rid of it.
Unfortunately I have found out that numerous other friends in my circle have gotten MRSA infections at Salem Memorial Hospital, which is now just a big corporate hospital. Bar codes and profits. Tests and more tests, run as many bar code charges as you can.
The other thing I found very disturbing about staff at Salem hospital was that all the staff was leaping at pronouncing my father dead before he was. We called it, "They are loading him on the death sled." Everything was about how he was gone, not about how to give him the best time we could and the best chances.
I find that Salem Memorial has a very low commitment to honoring its patients and shows very little willingness to prevent these kind of MRSA infections. Many hospitals test all staff and test new patients. They control MRSA rather than mopping up after it. Patient Advocacy is there more or less to protect the hospital, not its patients, and YOU should know this.
In discussions with staff working as nurses taking blood and doing other jobs, they stated they WERE NOT TESTED FOR MRSA. They downplayed the nature of the hazard.
You may call me if you would like to ad a comment about your experiences at Salem Memorial Hospital or if you have questions about this case.