A nurse with more than three decades of emergency room experience has filed a lawsuit against United Hospital in St. Paul, Minn,, alleging slow and improper care and irresponsible attitudes of some trauma physicians resulted in numerous patient deaths that could have been avoided with proper treatment.
Sandra White, a registered nurse who helped manage United Hospital’s emergency room, told KSTP that the care she witnessed there for 17 months “was the worst she has ever seen.” Ms. White also said that 8-10 patient deaths could have been avoided in those few months had United Hospital followed a better protocol.
Ms. White raised concerns with the hospital’s administration, but told KSTP that “nothing ever changed.” When she voiced her concerns to the Minnesota Department of Public Health, she alleges she was wrongfully terminated.
Her complaint alleges that United’s trauma center harmed patients with “slow assessment, delay of care, careless care, failure to chart, slow response by surgeons, failure to transfer trauma patients within 30 minutes when United was unable to handle them, failure to either timely activate the trauma team or activate the team at all, failure to use cervical collars for neck injuries, and the failure of the trauma surgeons and ED doctors to review their performance [in hospital] morbidity and mortality reviews.”
One example of poor care Ms. White cites in her lawsuit involves the death of a patient in the spring of 2010. She alleges that the patient arrived at the United ER with chest trauma, but the trauma team was never activated. Moreover, a CAT scan was not done for two hours and no surgeon saw the patient for two and a half hours. The patient was finally transferred to another hospital three hours later, but died shortly after.
The lawsuit describes another unnecessary death in the summer of 2011 when a patient with an aneurysm arrived at the United ER. The patient’s physician “unnecessarily delayed treatment for nearly four hours,” lawsuit alleges, and another physician failed to advocate for the patient’s safety as the patient’s condition deteriorated. The patient was pronounced dead shortly after being admitted to surgery due to bleeding injuries.
Ms. White’s lawsuit states that after she accused United of violating “recognized standards of care that places the public at risk of harm, United engaged in acts of retaliation that included the termination of White’s employment in violation of Minnesota’s Whistleblower Act …”
The plaintiff seeks compensation for lost wages and benefits, attorney fees, and punitive damages. Her case is pending in Ramsey County District Court.