Patient Story

Your Name: Francisco Vicens

Patient's Name/Relationship: Paula Aponte-Vicens

When did event occur (what year)? 9/25/1997

Where did event occur? Acute Care General Hospital

What type of medical harm did you experience or witness? Harm From a Prescription Drug

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. On 22 September, 1995 my mother Paula Aponte-Vicens woke up with a mild flu and because she was 84 years old we decided to transfer her from Las Piedras P.R to the Ryder Memorial Hospital in the nearby city of Humacao, Puerto Rico. The emergency doctor checked her and an X-ray showed a very small point of pneumonia in the left lung. He told us that she would be fine after taking some antibiotics and sent her back home; but at that point an internal medicine doctor, Dr. Jose Rivera arrived at the emergency room ,took charge of the situation and without checking her immediately ordered hospitalization. On September 24 in my daily visit I found her very sleepy and groggy. I visited the nurse station asked to see the prescriptions that she was taken. For my surprise Dr. Rivera had oerdered Ativan 2.5 milligram twice a day from day one. Her weight was 100 pounds more or less. I concluded it was too much for her because I once used Ativan for insomnia and my dose was 1Mg. My weight was 180 pounds at that time. I told the nurse to call Dr. Rivera, but was not available. Another doctor came, checked my mother and ordered to discontinue Ativan immediately. That was it. On Friday 25 my mother was dead due to Ativan overdose. The official cause of dead certified by Dr. Rivera was congestive heart failure that everybody know it is not true.

What was the outcome of the medical harm issue? Death