Medical Error Takes a Life: A Daughter’s Plea for Answers


Isn’t that why patients are admitted to the ICU, because they need and must receive constant intensive care second by second? And, in order to receive that intensive care, should his nurses have been watching him, rather than leaving him alone for more than two hours? Should they not have used available monitoring technology to alert them of his condition when they were not in his room assessing his condition? How did they know the neighboring patient had coded, but not my father?

My father did not receive timely care and rapid response – I was the one who found him unresponsive and alerted the nurses to his last breath. There were no monitors that could have and should have alerted his nurses that he was in trouble? Why?


I deserve an explanation

I have asked the hospital and his physicians these and many other questions. I deserve an explanation. All families deserve an explanation when something happens to their loved one.

I feel betrayed by the hospital, his physicians and nurses. I entrusted my father into their care, and they don’t care enough to speak openly and honestly with me about what happened.

Must I sue the hospital just to find out?

I wonder how many out there have gotten a call in the night saying, we’ve done all we could do, but you really don’t know if they did. You weren’t there. Or you stepped away and suddenly they are gone. Just how much trust should we put in the hands of these doctors and nurses?

I want to bring awareness in the name of my father, Curtis James Bentley, to people who have loved ones in ICU, to take notes, get involved, and know every nurse, doctor, procedure, times, machine hookups, medications and everything about your loved ones. Don’t assume when you walk through the doors of a hospital, that your loved ones are in great hands. Know the hospital you are choosing for them. Know what their success rates, health grades and complaints are. Get involved!

Would my father be here today had the proper monitoring taken place? Sadly, I will never know…

Thanks to Michael Wong, JD, Founder/Executive Director, Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety for helping Annette Smith contribute this touching story that illustrates the devastation that occurs when a medical error takes a life.


    • Dianna Colbert, I’m so sorry for your loss. I also apologize for just seeing this message. What a sad story. Since becoming an advocate, I too have found that I am not alone. Perhaps one day all of our voices will be heard and change will come.

  1. I will say that I had a similar experience of not so benign negligence with my own father when he had a stroke. He needed perfusion CT scanning, which wasn’t available at the hospital he was initially taken. The hospital called to arrange transfer to a facility that did, and it was about a 15 minute drive away. Unfortunately, the transport did not show up to pick him up to take him until THREE HOURS later. By the time he got to the other facility, the clot had miraculously resolved itself. However, if it had not, it would have been entirely too late for us to use thrombolytics to treat him. When I later called the hospital to find out what happened, I made it clear that it was solely by the grace of God they were talking to me and not to my attorney. They admitted to me their error, but I couldn’t help but wonder whether that was only because I am a physician. if my brother had been the one to make the call, would they have admitted the mistake?
    Oh, the reason it was 3 hours late is because they insisted on using the transport company owned by the company who owned the hospital (instead of the first available ambulance transport).
    I am so sorry for your loss, Annette, and I hope that you get answers. As physicians we’re told never to admit when we’re wrong, but the longer that culture continues in health care, the more unnecessary mistakes are made. Unfortunately, in many cases we aren’t always sure why a patient deteriorates, but a good physician will review a patient’s experience with him or with his family and explain what we can. Patients generally understand that doctors and nurses aren’t miracle workers and that sometimes you just cannot prevent a bad outcome. But patients deserve to know that their providers care for them genuinely, and the only way to share that genuine care and concern is through good communication.

    • Coming from a physician means a lot. Failure to monitor needs global attention. There were some errors made such as low labs, not addressing critical issues that could possibly have prevented his death. Those errors reduced his chance of surviving. His issues weren’t addressed in time. The failed to realize he was deteriorating. I guess “practitioners” means was it says…doctors PRACTICING medicine…The only way to minimize these types of errors is as you said to have “GOOD” physicians review a patients or caregiver for that matter, experience and do some explaining. Those physicians are rare… Thanks again for your input.

  2. m so sorry for your loss. I completely disagree @Arosswoods & think you were a tad insensitive & presumptuous to offer your opinion of misplaced grief. That isn’t in there & frankly unkind to suggest even if you thought such. Annette, I can’t possibly know all factors in your case from your narrative but I see some red flags not just with the nurse matter but the diagnosis of a colon lesion after a heart stent. I am willing to help you. Please find me on twitter, we can follow, DM then email from there. Im an expert in psychology in medicine (for practitioners & patients) and I use that to analyze the way medical decisions are made & perceptions are formed. Obviously very familiar with general medicine. I can be fair & look at all sides, but can definitely do a fairly evolved job of assessing if errors were made, where & perhaps guide you as to what steps you might consider depending what your ultimate goal is. If accurate, it is devastating to imagine that your father was in a coma & brain dead and you as a primary family member wasn’t notified. I really would need some more information. Again, so very sorry for your loss and for all these lingering questions.

    • Thank you so much for your thoughts and coming to my defense. It’s comforting to know someone cares and is actually reading my story, as well as be willing to help! I had to read his medical records and glean for myself what actually happened to him. They would offer hope, yet not telling me he was in a coma. I asked them several days ago, if they do an “investigation of all it’s Blue alerts to find out what was going on with the patient for 12-18 hours before the code to see if anything could have been done to potentially avoid the alert; everyone benefits from reflecting on and learning from an event.” They have yet to respond. That was 8 days ago. I ask that PPAHS do an article on “The Life of Patients 12-18 hours Before a Code; What Can Go Wrong and What to Look Out For.”

  3. Cant believe the rude comments. So many times nurses not doing hob, then use phrase, calm down , so can lie someone not stable. Good nurses never act like this. Her right to know and justice, is not misp lo aced; some comments here are, as is the hospital and staff who did this and lack of accountability. Do yiur jobs, as being paid more than the masses as minimum wage, and respect customer service, fact its people right to quality and their life. Medical should respect life.

    • “Assumptions” While some may get a phone call in the night, I was there! I SAW it all. I may not have a medical degree, but it doesn’t take a degree to know what the care should be for individuals on ICU. INTENSIVE CARE! Intensive care units cater to patients with the most severe and life-threatening illnesses and injuries, which require constant, close invasive monitoring and support from specialist equipment and medication in order to ensure normal bodily functions. Notice, “close invasive monitoring.” The equipment didn’t alert them nor was the staff where they should be. You assume when you weren’t there and don’t know and have to take their word for it. Again, I WAS THERE! I’m not blind…


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