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Follow-up on LA Heart-Attack

Posted Sep 07 2008 8:10pm
This is my blog and I run it the way I want.

You can call me a jackass and an idiot and any other choice words you choose. Creativity is a bonus, but stooping to profanity will get you deleted. You cannot call any readers or commenter stupid or offend them in any way, especially if they are grieving. You do not blame the victim.

I deleted an anonymous poster's comment this morning, but (s)he made some good points. I offer the comments below with edits where I thought they were appropriate. This whole thing is emotionally draining and a strain on the family of the deceased and I am aware that family and friends are reading. I am still trying to view this as a policy discussion with a really dramatic human impact, the nature of which has to be respected by everyone.

Remember, the following is from an anonymous poster responding to Missing a Heart Attack in LA:

Living in the LA area I have followed this in the news AND being a senior I am quite interested in LA County health facilities as I use them myself. I did a little investigation into this particular matter. It would seem from your post that you yourself are a medical professional since you claim your friend died of a heart attack.... well, after calling the county coroner they stated they would not have the autopsy results for another two weeks.

At this point we do not even know why he died. The Times reported he died of heart failure, however anyone who dies has heart failure. All that means is that the heart stopped. That happens when a person dies.

[...] Why did you stop at a county hospital? Verdugo Hospital is private and Olive View is county, which means it is free, obviously then the man did not have health insurance therefore Verdugo would have refused him treatment altogether. Don't you know that a private hospital can refuse treatment to those without insurance, like myself, with no repercussions? [Ed: This is untrue because of a rule known as EMTALA, but if a person perceives an obstacle to accessing care, they may not seek the care they need; the consequences of which are plain to see. This is an argument for universal health coverage.]

Also, the Daily News and LA Times reported that you and your friend had just come back from a "wild" weekend in Las Vegas. [...] Could that have been a contributing factor[?]

The Times [also] reported that your friend told the nurses at Olive View that he had been drinking and that he was currently intoxicated. [Could that have contributed to the nurse's judgment?]


Having used County Health Facilities myself I know there are at least 4 to 6 persons involved with every patients. When I visit the ER at a county facility I have to sign up with one person, wait to be triaged by another, sit in the waiting room with at least 40 other people; after triage I go to the financial person, then I wait to be called back to the ER and another RN checks me out, takes my vitals etc., then I wait to see the doctor.

It will be very interesting to find out what the autopsy and toxicology report from the coroner's office has to say.
While Anonymous adopted an abrasive tone, the post highlights that health outcomes such as this unexplained death in LA can have multiple contributing causes. This whole thing started when I posted on GruntDoc that an EKG would not necessarily have saved his life. As more details come out, it seems that an entire health system is under indictment and yes, patients are an integral player in the system and yes, they sometimes make mistakes too ( Anonymous included). we still don't know enough of the details and they are contentious, to say the least. I think the purpose here is to understand what happened and with as little rancor and blame, try to come up with a way to minimize the frequency of system failures such as this.
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