Friday, March 12, 2010

Open letter to Duke University - why did you let my dad die?

My dad died at home on 01-15-2010. Duke Medical agreed to sign off on the death certificate without even examining my dad. I requested an autopsy shortly thereafter. I received the abbreviated autopsy report on 03-11-2010.

I sent the following out on 03-12-2010
Dr Mark Easley (orthopedic surgeon):

I understand now why Duke is reluctant to help me with my orthopedic knee & ankle problems caused when I lifted my dying father out of a wheelchair hours before his death.

I received the autopsy report. It looks like the written report spent more time with
attorneys at Risk Management than with a pathologist.

The report is disjointed and omits the August 2008 hospitalization about which YOU told me Duke North messed up by not attending to dad's foot.

It also conveniently leaves out the Duke North November 2007 hospitalization where Dr Morse (Duke oncologist) ordered 3 days of IV antibiotics, dad got zero treatment at Duke North . Dad was readmitted 4 days later at Duke Raleigh with pneumonia! That was 2007 and no one at Duke ever followed up on the pneumonia. Even when I asked Duke physicians about low oxygen level for 2.5 years! Dad dies with end stage pulmonary disease? Why didn't I ever know about a first or mid stage disease? Why did he have to suffer with no treatment?

And he had severe bone infection from the August 2008 hospitalization where you Dr Easley (a Church-going man who believes in my Lord Jesus Christ) told me there was an error. Dr Easley, you knew the Duke oncologist could never treat dad's cancer from the point of the ignored August 2008 infection because of the bone healing issue. How was the bone ever going to heal if dad had bone infection. Dr Easley? Why didn't I ever know about - and why was he never treated for - a bone infection?

Shame on Duke for making my dad suffer for so many years.

I hear about tort reform and healthcare reform? Exactly what does that mean? After a certain age, we just say he's too old to matter? We won't mention the bone infection. We won't talk about pulmonary disease. We wont treat him. And this is prestigious Duke University? What happens at less rich, endowed facilities with "the best of the best"?

Shouldn't someone, somewhere know that Duke hurt and mistreated my dad? Shouldn't someone somewhere know Duke University literally made decisions to ignore illnesses & ration dad's care?

Duke University Medical doesn't want to make a stand a government control of healthcare -- that control will result in rationing of care for more than just 76 year old retired medicinal scientists.

Sure dad was retired. But this is not Hitler's Nazi Germany - his life did have value here in the the USA.

Dr Easley, I accepted that you did not want to get involved in my medical malpractice claim against the Illinois orthopedic surgeon (who you know without any basis whatsoever accused me of being unstable as I walked post surgically because I was an alcoholic & stated under oath that he did not know why he performed the surgery on me). You told me "I just want to practice medicine."

But that does not explain the apparent lack of medical care my dad received and the pain he endured. One of the most heart breaking parts is that dad's brain was fine. He knew Duke and the profession he respected failed him. He routinely asked me "why can't Dr. Easley fix my foot"?

During dad's last 2 weeks of life I begged you personally and Duke oncology to see my dad. I was ignored. I even sent you a photo of dad after his 01-02-2010 fall. I was ignored.

I will pray for you Dr Easley. And I hope you pray too - every patient is important. Speak out against the physicians that ignore disease or err as occurred with my dad (or me) even, and indeed especially, if they are your colleagues .... lest you be lumped in with them.

God bless you sir.

Cheryl Handy

Cc. To others who should be warned

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