palm beach post
er death brings changes at florida hospital
an internal investigation at st. lucie medical center shows hospital staff needs to communicate more effectively between departments. the review was initiated after a 28-year old woman died more than three hours after arriving at the er last month.
palm beach post, july 11, 2002
port st. lucie -- the staff at st. lucie medical center needs to communicate better and all departments that work with the emergency room need to strengthen how they work together, hospital officials announced this week. the changes were sparked by a review after a 28-year-old woman died more than three hours after arriving at st. lucie medical center's crowded emergency room last month.
leilani j. delos santos of port st. lucie arrived at st. lucie medical center about 3 p.m. june 17. that day, the emergency department treated 99 patients, and many critically ill patients arrived the same time delos santos did. two doctors and a physician's assistant were on staff at the time she arrived. delos santos died at 6:21 p.m. of kidney failure and high blood sugar.
hospital spokeswoman ginger king said she could not divulge anything about their internal investigation, which recounted what happened from the time delos santos entered the hospital to the time she died.
as a result, however, she said the hospital will change how departments such as the hospital laboratory communicate with the emergency department. people who work in the emergency room and in departments that work with emergency patients will be trained in communicating the urgency of a situation.
"our reports are, of course, on the computer," king said. "if there's something that needs to be red-flagged, it needs to be telephoned, not just on a computer screen."
delos santos was a lifelong diabetes patient and arrived at the hospital complaining "she was hurting all over," treasure coast medical examiner roger mittleman said. she was conscious, but her condition deteriorated quickly. mittleman ruled her death was by natural causes.
her family could not be reached thursday for comment.
a spokesman for the florida agency for health care administration said he was aware of delos santos' death in the hospital's emergency room, but he could not comment on whether the agency is doing its own investigation.
last november, jensen beach resident dorothy cooper, 88, died after waiting four hours in the martin memorial medical center emergency room in stuart.
although nurses at first thought cooper's illness wasn't life-threatening, the hospital did not have a system in place to rush her in for treatment when she began to deteriorate in the waiting room.
after her death, martin memorial placed a patient care technician in the waiting room to monitor patients as they wait to see a doctor. the hospital also added a third doctor to the emergency room staff.