Patient Story

Your Name: Eric Andrist

Patient's Name/Relationship: Evelyn, Cali & Eric Andrist (Mother, sister & me)

City/State: Los Angeles, CA

When did event occur (what year)? 2003-2017

Where did event occur? Acute Care General Hospital

What type of medical harm did you experience or witness? Combination of Above or "Other". Please explain.Please describe what happened. Your story will appear on our website exactly as you have written it unless there is a problem, in which case we will contact you for clarification. In October 2003, my mother went in for elective surgery to clear some blockage in the veins in her legs at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, CA (the same hospital where Alicia Cole contracted flesh-eating disease, and actor John Ritter died). Two days later she was dead from hospital acquired sepsis. At that point I became the caregiver for my disabled sister, Cali, caring for her 24/7 for the next nine years. Then 

in 2012, Cali came down with a terrible stomach ache. I called an ambulance to take her to the hospital, the very same one where our mother had died (all of the area hospitals are bad, but surely lightning couldn't strike twice, right?) The ER doctors suspected a small bowel obstruction. Even though she was writhing in pain, and pain medication was prescribed 2 hours after our arrival, they didn't give her any for over 15 hours. When they did, they gave her Dilaudid which is 7 times stronger than morphine, and a drug that she had at least six contraindications for. Shortly before they gave her the Dilaudid, though, they gave her a radioactive beverage to drink for an unnecessary CT Scan (I say unnecessary because she had already had one and they could see the bowel blockage in it...she needed emergency surgery.) Because of the sedative effect of the Dilaudid, and the supine position they had her laying in, she ended up aspirating the radioactive beverage into her lungs which caused pulmonary edema and sent her into cardiac arrest. The story is much longer than this, but to keep it short...the hospital was under the wrong impression that Cali was a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate), even though she wasn't. Her medical record even stated that they needed to verify with me, and I told them more than 3 times that she was not a DNR. So while she laid there in cardiac arrest, the nurses stood around doing nothing! When they realized they were wrong, they called a code blue and did resuscitate her, but it was too late...she was nearly brain dead by then. She died the next day. The hospital never did truly diagnose what was wrong with her. Through a private autopsy we found out that she actually had a strangulate bowel that had burst and was sending toxins into her body causing sepsis, the same thing our mother had died from. Then in the Fall 2015, I went in for hernia surgery (stomach). Surgery seemed to go ok, but within 6 months all of my symptoms had returned. Went back to the surgeon who ran the same tests and found that the hernia had indeed returned. She scheduled a second surgery to fix it. That happened in Fall of 2016. Then within 6 months, my symptoms returned once again. The surgeon sent me in for the same tests which revealed that the problem was worse than before the first surgery. She was ready to schedule me for a third surgery when I told her that I wanted to get a 2nd opinion. I no longer trusted this surgeon. I went to the 2nd surgeon in the Fall of 2017 who ran tests that the first surgeon never bothered to run. He found that I indeed needed surgery again and the condition was pretty bad. He did the surgery and found that the 1st surgeon had done it incorrectly. It was a procedure called a fundoplication, where they take a portion of your stomach and wrap it around itself and sew it to your esophogus, thus helping to keep your reflux from coming back up. But instead of sewing the stomach to the esophagus, the 1st surgeon had sewed the stomach to itself..there was no way it ever would have worked. To top it all off, while I was recuperating from the 3rd surgery, I developed a cough from the Dilaudid they gave me for pain (which makes me now think that both my sister and I have an allergy to Dilaudid). It felt as though every time I coughed, my 8" scar down my belly was popping open. I told the nurses about it and they assured me that it wasn't. They sent me home after 3 days. I came home and napped for a few hours and when I woke up, my abdomen was soaking wet. I pulled the bandages down and found that my entire surgery site had opened up...I could see into my belly. I called the surgeon but he was out of town. The on-call surgeon acted like he didn't believe me and asked me to take a photo of it and text it to him. So I did. He then told me to get back to the emergency room immediately. They called my surgeon who came back in from out of town and they cleaned up my open wound as best they could, and restapled me shut. Now I live in fear of sepsis popping up in me some time. 

What was the outcome of the medical harm issue? Death