Local News

HHS Investigation Shows Hospital Made Errors In Caring For Harnett County Man

Posted April 2, 2002 6:06 a.m. EST

— Tommy Faison went to the emergency room at Betsy Johnson Regional Hospital in Dunn with chest pains. After more than two hours of waiting, he was finally taken back to the emergency room, where he died a short time later.

Two days after

WRAL's story

ran in February, state Health and Human Services launched their own investigation into Betsy Johnson Regional Hospital in Dunn. A state report that was recently released substantiates Ms. Faison's claims that the 67-year-old heart and cancer patient had to wait too long for help at Betsy Johnson Regional Hospital.

Health and Human Services investigators found:

"The facility failed to avoid delay in providing medical screening...failed to provide an appropriate medical screening examination and ongoing assessment...and failed to adequately triage the patient."

"They did it in my favor because it was the truth," Faison said.

Administrators at Betsy Johnson said following the state investigation, procedural changes were made in the emergency room to improve patient care. However, at this point, no employees have been disciplined because of Mr. Faison's death.

The report shows shortly after a triage nurse recorded Mr. Faison's blood pressure at 169 over 140, there was a shift change. Despite excruciating chest pains and pleas from his wife, the patient was sent back to the waiting room, unchecked, for over two hours.

Once he made it inside the emergency room, his heart stopped.

"It's a very serious consideration for us. Patients should receive prompt attention if for nothing else to determine what's wrong." said Jim Jones of the Health and Human Services Department.

"You're hurting right then or whatever is taking place. You need help then, and I pray and I hope everyone will get better care now," Faison said.

The U.S. Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services will make the final determination on any action against the hospital.

State investigators have recommended the toughest sanctions possible because of what it considers an immediate and serious threat to patient health and safety, which would force Betsy Johnson to come up with proof of correction within 23 days or risk losing federal reimbursement money.

The Health and Human Services Department may also forward the case to the state board of nursing and the office of civil rights.