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Lawsuits, regulators question ER care at Fayetteville hospital

Posted November 14, 2011

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— Cape Fear Valley Medical Center is attracting the attention of state and federal investigators for what some patients claim is inadequate treatment in the hospital's emergency room.

Two lawsuits have been filed in recent weeks, claiming mistreatment in the ER led to a man's death and endangered the life of a woman.

A Cape Fear Valley spokesman said Monday that the hospital has made changes to its ER and will continue to adjust to better serve patients.

Ometric Snow said an ambulance took her to the Cape Fear Valley ER on Oct. 18 because she was suffering extreme abdominal pain and nausea.

The 28-year-old said she waited for about an hour and then asked for pain medication. When a nurse refused, she waited another hour and asked again.

"She again told me no and that I wasn't the only one there and that there had been people waiting there five or six hours before I ever got there," Snow said Monday.

After more waiting, she said, she grew so frustrated that she cursed at the hospital staff, who then had a security guard escort her in handcuffs out of the hospital. She walked outside with a blanket an employee had given her, only for a security guard to track her down.

"She comes behind me, snatches the blanket and I asked her why. She told me I was stealing," Snow recalled tearfully. "For me to go through that was ridiculous."

Cape Fear Valley eventually admitted Snow, who has polycystic kidney disease, and she stayed for a week of treatment. The disease causes cysts to form on kidneys, disrupting their function and leading to infections.

Cape Fear Valley Medical Center ER Inadequate emergency care alleged at Cape Fear Valley

Snow accuses the hospital of negligence and the denial of her civil rights. She is seeking at least $20,000 in damages.

Valerie Walker alleges in her wrongful death lawsuit that Cape Fear Valley security guards killed her son on April 17 when he went to the ER for a psychiatric evaluation. Andre Walker was agitated and tried to leave the hospital when several guards restrained him, including putting him in a choke hold, according to the suit.

That lawsuit prompted a ruling from the federal Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services that the hospital was in "immediate jeopardy" of losing reimbursements for Medicare or Medicaid patients.

Benbenek said the hospital has addressed the issues of concern to federal regulators and is no longer in jeopardy of losing funding.

ER visits at Cape Fear Valley have jumped by 28 percent since 2007, making it one of the busiest ERs in North Carolina, but the hospital remains committed to providing the best care to patients, said Vince Benbenek, vice president of marketing and outreach.

"We are confident that we have the policies and procedures in place to keep our patients and staff safe while we deliver a high level of care," Benbenek said in a statement.

Cape Fear Valley's parent company plans to build a 65-bed hospital in northern Cumberland County and a 41-bed hospital in Hoke County to relieve some of the pressure on the flagship campus.

Benbenek also noted that a recent ER renovation has decreased patient wait times.

The children's ER has been moved across campus, allowing the main ER to create an area for more critical patients, he said. Also, teams of doctors and nurses work to admit patients faster to the most appropriate area of the hospital.

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  • crush2019 Nov 15, 2011

    Cape Fear is no good. I went one night in the worst pain I have ever felt and told it would be 12 hrs. The pain was so bad that I just went home. My doc sent me back the next day and even called them.I waited 8 hrs to be told in less than 5 min by a doc that I was fine and that they would not do a CT of my abdomen. They said my ultrasound was normal. I proceeded to pass 1 of many kidney stones the next night. Funny thing is i have been diabetic for yrs and they didn't even consider my kidneys. It's truly sad how people have to suffer. We need another ER very badly.

  • gassy1 Nov 15, 2011

    PirateGrad11-if the counties (yes citizens-I stated counties because it is not just Cumberland county,it is Hoke, Robeson, Harnette, Moore,and Bladen who are transported to CFV ED on a daily basis) would start charging people with misuse of the 911 system, there would be less of that too. You and I know how this affects the overcrowding and delays care to others who are in need, do they get bashed? No..because they can't be sued for " negligence". People who live in glass houses should not throw stones. No one is perfect , but one thing is for sure- the pay is enough to make a living on, but it is not worth the mental, physical and verbal abuse that comes along with 13 hours of cont. Walking on cement, voiding once if you are lucky in that 13 hours, getting cursed out, threatened and harassed and assaulted on a daily basis all the while not being able to get a bite to eat or swallow because we are nurses and the patients need comes 1st.

  • gassy1 Nov 15, 2011

    The ED is overwhelmed. The next time you go or even drive by , take a look at the parking lot ; there is not one minute that it is NOT filled to capacity. There are extremely long wait time, that is true however there are some extremely sick people who are in the beds! Along with the extremely sick ones are people who come in and know how to work the system and know what to state as symptoms to get them worked up and drugs they don't need.......more than once in a week, sometimes on a daily basis....but because of liability....the get the million dollar work up time and time again. I know there is room for improvement-much room. Management from the top down is the place to start. The nurses and doctors do everything possible to get pts in and out or upstairs as fast as possible, I know this as fact. A person,regardless if they are a doctor, nurse , or other profession can only do so much at one time. You don't have magic wands-neither do they.

  • greeneyedpixie Nov 15, 2011

    This facility has operated very poor for a long time.Finally someone has shown the spotlight on them.My husband had to wait 11hrs to be seen on one occasion(abdominal/groin pain) and I have left on two occasions because of the wait( bone in my throat/allergic reaction to medicine) one time my husband drove me to Sanford to seek medical treatment.On another occasion I went due to breathing problems(asthma),once I got in the back the nurses were busy laughing and talking taking their time with no sense of urgency.If you go to Cape Fear Valley be ready to wait at least 8 hrs before into the back and then another 30 min. more before seeing a Doctor.If you have a child they take you back quickly,then they want you to fill out a survey about their performance, but you never receive a survey from the adult side of the ER.I assume it is because they are aware of their short comings.Please continue to shine the light on Cape Fear Valley before other's die because of their negligence.

  • PirateGrad11 Nov 14, 2011

    An ambulance ride does not equal automatic admittance into any ER. Please keep that in mind when you call 911 because you think it will get you seen faster.