I have received many anonymous tips during the first few days of going live and with some of these tips came questions as to my motives behind this blog. It’s a fair question.
My simple goal is to make Broward Health, the system I have paid taxes to for over 20 years, and the likely place I will spend time in my advancing years – the finest public hospital system in the country. Easier said than done. There’s a lot of history to overcome, and many bad habits to change. To understand my commitment, I need to put it into context.
Caitlin eventually made a full recovery but the lessons learned became the origin and reason for creating my attendance at most, if not all, of the Broward Health board meetings for the last four years, and this blog which was born out of bureaucratic frustration with and political misbehavior by Broward Health leadership. Since coming to Broward in 1977 from New England, I have been active in public policy issues for the School Board, the County Government and served in an advisory position to many committees. As a past elected official, chair of Broward’s Management and Efficiency Advisory Committee, chair of Broward’s Charter Review Committee, chair of Broward’s Growth Management Advisory Committee, and recognized public policy leader in Broward County by Gold Coast Magazine. My family and I are long time taxpayers to and customers of Broward Health with deep and broad community roots in the Broward Health service area. But back to Caitlin, my youngest of 4 children.
Caitlin, an otherwise healthy 19 year old Kodak and Nike fashion model arrived in Broward Health’s ICU after returning home to Fort Lauderdale for her spring break in 2011. It was the second trip to the Emergency Room in two days that caused her admission to the Med/Surg floor. The ER initially diagnosed a simple nerve pinch. Less than 15 minutes after she arrived in her room at the Med/Surg floor, an alert physician noticed that she was experiencing organ failure – and she was taken to the ICU. It was Saturday morning.
From thereafter, event after event began to occur. There was a failure of the “Rapid Response Team” to assemble. There were problems with Caitlin’s medical records from the ER. The “attending physician” asked for permission to insert a central line but “he had not done it in a while”. Based on faulty blood work, the OB/GYN surgeons argued that she could be bleeding in her abdomen and they needed to do emergency laparoscopic surgery. They successfully argued that, if they were right and the surgery was not done immediately, Caitlin could die. There was no time to re-do any diagnostic tests.
The surgery was completed with no conclusions, but only exacerbated her condition. In the recovery room, Caitlin woke up but could not breathe on her own and had to be sedated and reintubated. To this day she has night terrors due to this incident. Her condition was grave as she could no longer maintain blood pressure and her organs were failing. The on-call ICU “intensivist” pulmonologist directed the nurses by phone and after refusing to come in to examine Caitlin said to another physician “you know how these cases go, it’s in God’s hands”.
For the next eight days, Caitlin was attended to by the heroic ICU nursing staff that all too often had to explain to the family that they were “waiting on Doctor’s orders”. In spite of twenty-six (26) physicians on the case, it was not until the eighth day in the ICU that a diagnosis would be made. Caitlin would be hospitalized for more than thirty days, with half of that time in the ICU. Absent the heroic efforts of the extraordinary ICU nursing staff, Caitlin would not have survived. But Caitlin did survive, and today she thrives. So what happened?
Just before spring break, her college health clinic failed to treat her severe sore throat with antibiotics and this resulted in Lemierre’s syndrome. If you are parents, and don’t know about it – click here. It has a 97% mortality rate. This condition and her symptoms were missed by the emergency room, in part by the failure of the emergency room to properly triage her condition, sloppy paperwork, etc. (and I put this mildly). This was followed up by a circus in the ICU that nearly cost my daughter her life.
But my point – instead of suing everyone for malpractice, which we would likely win – my daughter and I decided that instead, we would commit to try to fix the problem so future families would not have to endure what we had to at the hands of Broward Health. Besides, with medical bills approaching one million dollars, and Broward Health protected by sovereign immunity (capping recovery at $ 250,000) any recovery we could have made would likely be claimed by the insurance company.
Our ordeal started on St. Patrick’s Day, 2011 and we made our commitment in September of that same year. I have been attending Broward Health Board committee and regular meetings ever since and up until the ouster of the CEO in December and the installation of a clueless CEO as a puppet to the political whims of an inexperienced Board Majority, progress was being made on many different fronts, slowly.
Now, much of the progress that was made is being trampled through arrogance, inexperience, and just plain carelessness. This blog seeks to expose this conduct and by letting the sun shine in – make it difficult for back-room political deals to happen without consequence.
Stand by, it’s going to get bumpy!