Awful: Veteran collapses and dies waiting for help just 500 yards from emergency room

Another horrifying example of the critical need facing the VA right now happened at the Albuquerque VA just before the July 4th holiday. A veteran collapsed at the VA cafeteria, and instead of everyone rallying to rush him over to the emergency room – they followed protocol and called in the ambulance. Fifteen minutes later it arrived – but it was too late.

Buck reacted on radio:

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The AP reported:

A veteran who collapsed in an Albuquerque Veteran Affairs hospital cafeteria, 500 yards from the emergency room, died after waiting 30 minutes for an ambulance, officials confirmed Thursday.

Officials at the hospital said took a half an hour for the ambulance to be dispatched and take the man from one building to the other, which is about a five minute walk.

VA spokeswoman Sonja Brown said Kirtland Air Force Medical Group personnel performed CPR until the ambulance arrived.

“A veteran collapses in a veterans hospital, and instead of all hands on deck, we got a veteran down, it takes them 20 minutes to get the ambulance to come. This is in a hospital. Think about this. Takes 20 minutes to get an ambulance to show up so they can transport him the length of a couple of football fields maybe. 20 minutes. He’s dead,” Buck said.

Buck warned that this happened after the nation has already expressed outrage over the VA scandal, and it shows the dangers of regulation interfering with common sense.

  • Paul G

    Here in Albuquerque, they kinda made it a big deal the first day. Although today they ID’d him
    From our local news..
    http://www.koat.com/news/veteran-who-died-after-waiting-for-ambulance-in-va-cafeteria-identified/26827408#comments

  • Mathew Threadgill

    A few thoughts on the commentary. First off the VA is entirely at fault. The patient was already on hospital property as such he was the hospitals patient per federal law. As such the sitution presents a major legal hurtile in terms of transport due to the interfacility nature of the transport and the above mentioned law. Secondly how do you know where the closest available ambulance was? The VA does not operate an ambulance service as such the units at the ER do not take direction from the hospital. As such they have to be dispatched via different means. Also if they already have a patient to care for they can’t abondon their current patient in begin treating a new one. And yes patient adandonment is a legal term and providers can loose their license and everything they will ever own over it.

  • landofaahs

    Just get rid of all the VA hospitals and give the veterans a Veterans card for free health care at any medical facility.

  • Phil

    Just as a note, I work in EMS, it is protocol for hospitals to call for an ambulance if a patient has an emergency at the front doors of the ED. Hospital staff are not trained to work in the tech field, even if they work both for a hospital and on an ambulance. As silly as it sounds there are protocols for a reason. Not to justify that the other people couldn’t have helped him under the Good Samaritan law. But the hospital staff is legally not allowed to do so.

  • Cody Woods

    OK, can you not legally pick him up and carry him to the emergency room? Where is the common sense?

  • Audrey Bob Gallagher

    I know this is a terrible tragedy, but staff was following protocol. I worked in a private sector hospital where one of our nurses was hit by a truck outside the Emergency Room and an ambulance had to come to bring her inside. Her co-workers were not permitted to come out of the hospital to aid her but anyone coming to work at the time could stop to help as a good samaritan, and not as an employee of the hospital. We were all outraged about this at the time also. Thankfully she survived. There is enough bad with the VA system (I know, I am an employee) but this is just piling on, in my opinion.

  • Mathew Threadgill

    It is not a law it is hospital policy. In legal terms once that patient on hositpal property they become the hospitals patient.

  • Something Is Wrong

    And there’s your preview of Obamacare implemented nationwide and at full strength. Too few people understand that the way our nation has seen just how to push people into compliance and just how to implement socialism has been tested and proven in the military and through the VA system. What would be great is if we could have a VA system that wasn’t run by the government but by the contributions and efforts of citizens independent of any government involvement. That will never happen, of course, because the other hard fact to face is that people are too selfish with their means and while they may say that they want something to change and they may feel some kind of stirring inside that says they care about veterans or any other demographic that is in need of help, that feeling does not extend to their wallets. People want things to get better, want to see help for those unable to help themselves, and don’t want the government involved in such welfare-related things because it’s not the government’s responsibility but at the same time, those people also don’t want to have to pay for it themselves. You can’t have it both ways. If you want the government out of the welfare business and to stop all the bureaucracy from the government, then you need to step in and do something about it with your own means. The only reason there is any room for government welfare or any justification for those who support it is because private citizens are and have been too selfish with their own means to help somebody else out who needs help. Don’t get me wrong, I would like to see an end to government involvement in all forms of healthcare and welfare as well, but we need to do something about it ourselves. This is exactly why I’m trying to start up the business I’m currently working on.

  • Mathew Threadgill

    Phil check your facts again brother. It may be hospital policy that they can’t do that, but it is not law. Per federal law once a patient on on hospital propety that is the hospitals patient. Also EMS can not assume care of that patient unless the hospital transfers that patient.

  • Mathew Threadgill

    Screw policy, were my coworker or friend lying in the street I would not allow protocol to prevent me from rendering aid or seeking help for them. As for the hopital I understand where the policy comes from. If the patient is not on hospital property they are not the hospitals patient. I get it. And the street is not hospital property. However in the case being disscussed the patient was on hospital property as such the hospitals patient.

  • Paul G

    Although I DON’T understand the ‘protocol’…What I REALLY don’t understand is why NO ONE helped him!

  • Brendon Herring

    This is garbage. Phil, I’m a 68w combat medic in the army gone civilian ER EMT while I’m home at the officer candidate school, and I personally think this is a perfect example of when regulations need to be broken. We have had patients collapse outside of our doors, and we have gone outside to retrieve them. It’s not hard to roll a stretcher out there and grab the guy up, continue compressions as you roll him into the ER and run a code blue on him. This isn’t even about regulation. This is about the quality of the people that are leading this institution. My nursing supervisor has ran outside to retrieve patients, as has the ED director. I myself would run a half mile down the road to grab somebody if I had to. This is why we went into medicine. Not to help people when it’s convenient, but to help people because it is the only way we know how to live. I’m no director of the VA. I don’t know what all can be done to fix this system. But it’s time the people as w hole took action.

  • Netmilsmom

    So who made such a stupid policy?
    That person should be fired.

  • Something Is Wrong

    The main thing you’re overlooking however is what you stated right at the beginning. This man wasn’t their coworker or anybody’s friend. We’ve all been conditioned to think of ourselves first and to do whatever we need to so that we don’t rock the boat and don’t get ourselves in trouble with our boss. This is why they fall back on protocol; because they don’t actually care. And it’s not totally on them either, everything in our culture and society speaks to living for yourself and caring first and foremost about yourself. People in general really just don’t care enough about anybody else to give more than feelings or lip service.

  • Phil

    Mathew, protocol is the law in the emergency, and hospital setting. If you go against protocol it is considered negligence. Which you can loose your practice. At the state, and national level.

  • Something Is Wrong

    Because people are more concerned with themselves and quite simply don’t really care about what happens outside of their own little bubble. Our whole culture is all about doing for yourself As bad as it sounds, people in general really just don’t care.

  • Crassus

    Then I hope somebody sues the hell out of you and your hospital for negligence should something like what happened to this gentleman in New Mexico happen at your hospital. You, my friend, ARE part of the problem. Don’t give me this crap that there are protocols for a reason. Let’s see a relative or friend of yours die in a similar situation and see if you get on here with such sanctimonious claptrap.

  • Crassus

    Phil, can you please tell me where you are located so I can be sure to avoid it? I don’t want you or anyone else at this hospital ever touching me or any of my family should we ever be in need of emergency care. I wouldn’t want you or your associates even treating me for a head cold.

  • Phil

    Crassus, that is one of the most uneducated and ignorant statement I’ve read all day. For the peace keep your mouth shut, you’re starting to sound like a liberal.

  • Phyllis Ringstad

    Stupidity, absolute stupidity! These ignorant, order following sheep need to be fired at the minimum. I can’t imagine morons of this magnitude! What about the morons that made this stupid rule, probably a lawyer. Gees, I could go on and on, but sorry I won’t. Sympathy to this man’s family.

  • Crassus

    You’re the one sounding like a typical, stupid, uncaring liberal bureaucrat. You’re the one who should have kept his fat mouth shut. My so-called ignorant statement was War and Peace compared to yours.

  • Phil

    I’m simply stating laws and protocols on why the hospital staff didn’t act. I never said its right, nor do I agree with it. But the LAW IS THE LAW. Hospital staff are not allowed to do that. Plain and simple.

  • Crassus

    You probably don’t even care one way or the other. It’s just a game to people like you. Oh well, we lost another one. Too bad, so sad. Go home, watch Big Bang Theory, and then pop a Valium.

  • Crassus

    Read some comments below, Phyllis. Especially the ones by Phil and you’ll understand why it happened.

  • Phil

    Sounds like you have no concept of the hospital or EMS field. So before you start correcting someone who does, how about you do your research. If I didn’t care for people, I wouldn’t have chosen fire/EMS as my career choice.

  • Jill Marlow

    Thankyou Brendon for just being you and doing what you do, that was really well said, Bless you and your Family.

  • Shawn Thornton

    punch out and take a lunch WTF

  • Mathew Threadgill

    Phil protocol and law are two different things. My protocols at work are supposed to conform law but they are not the law. In fact page one of mine states that they are guidelines. And to prove negligence you must prove four things, none of which directly relate to ones protocol but all are legal definitions. In order for one to prove neglience they must prove that you had a duty to act, you breached said duty, actual damages, and proimate cause.

  • Anonymous

    So you let people die until an ambulance arrives to carry the person 20 feet or so into the emergency room.

  • Mathew Threadgill

    I’m not overlooking that rather I’m directly referencing the comment not the article.

  • Phil

    It’s not the ambulance service who let’s them die, it’s the doctors and medical control who gather in big meetings every year to discuss protocols for hospitals, and EMS. And protocols are law in the medical field. No I do not agree with it, most everyone who is in the medical field doesn’t agree. But it’s the law, not everyone agrees with laws, but we have to abide by them.

  • Phil

    I don’t work in the hospital setting, I work on an ambulance, and a fire truck. I respond to hospitals for incidences like this, no one has died in my patient care yet, but it’s the law and it’s unfortunately the way it goes. And until someone smart realizes that’s its causing more harm than good, it’s not going to change. Maybe this incident will.

  • Jim Capobianco

    That is probably the best idea yet. And sell the equipment and facilities to existing hospital chains.

  • Mathew Threadgill

    PHIL PROTOCOLS ARE NOT THE LAW! Those are two complete different entities. Now some states like Alabama and South Carolina have one set of protocols for ambulances throughout the entire state. But this is not true in all. Texas for example is a true delegated practice state as such the state has nothing to do with protocols and individual medical directors approve protocols that differ from service to service. In fact page one of my protocols clearly state that they are just guidelines.

  • Anonymous

    They know how to get you a 500$ fine for drinking soda fast enough. Their priorities are outta whack. I guess they don’t keep the brain surgeons at the canteen.

  • Anonymous

    Hey Phil, I think what people are saying about your statements is that you care more about protocols than the injured individual dying at the hospital doorstep. Personally it sounds like you’re more interested in keeping a job rather than saving a life. Please don’t respond to this, you are a trained seal and anything you say just smells fishy.

  • Anonymous

    I guess people are dying in the streets under Obama-Care

  • Anonymous

    AMEN!!!

  • Ben Williams

    I witness a very similar event, minus the death of a veteran, at the Golden, Colorado VA Clinic on June 17, 2014

  • Phillis Johnson

    Landofaahs you are absolutely correct. Why make vets thst are sick travel for hours to see a Dr its more cost and time effecient to let them have free local healthcare.

  • Frustrated MD

    Unfortunately I have experienced this first hand as a medicine resident who spends time at our local VA. We had a patient collapse in a clinic just down the hall from the ER, wheeled him inside the back door to the ER, and gave orders to the nursing staff stat. They actually refused, because it wasn’t protocol and they “didn’t know the patient.” The rest of the nursing staff and ED docs pretended they didn’t see what was happening. Meanwhile this poor vet was losing consciousness. My supervising resident ended up having to retrieve resuscitation measures and medications on his own, while ER staff just stood around. And fortunately for that vet, with the help of some residents and a couple of nurse who came to help from elsewhere, we quickly assessed that he had lost consciousness due to low blood sugar and were able to prevent a seizure or other complications. This can happen in any hospital, and unfortunately does, but I’ve seen many patients lives on the line because of so called VA “protocol”, and also poorly trained nursing and ancillary staff preventing us from doing our jobs. Something has to change.

  • Lynne Holt Miller

    Good idea, the VA can’t seem to be able to keep people alive, God help us when Obama makes it to where we are forced to use his health care.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve been at a VA with my dad who was having a heart attack and thankfully was able to have another Vet take us to an ER at another local hospital it was 15 minutes away but got him to the ER door and there he was getting immediate care Happens often at the VA lately ambulance is called n they transport to local hospitals but its unbelievable and also a couple of years ago the portable blood pressure machines were eliminated so if you can’t get someone to get a b/p from machine off wall unit and there were concerns how up to date the crash carts were.

  • http://beckhampost.blogspot.com/ James Beckham

    Sad.

  • lamb

    Because bureaucracies stand on policy not people. People will always lose. My Mom was a director of a VA home.She fought her whole career against the stupidity of the government and to make sure her patients were given the best care.

  • Blair Simpson

    I have been in a civilian hospital ER many times and have been “abandoned” when an emergency occurred…a form of triage I believe…the most serious cases first.

  • lamb

    Amen. I will never forget the day My mother who was a director of a VA home got reprimanded by the higher ups who happen to be there for a meeting. My mother was late because a handicap resident needed help in the bathroom, not a medical emergency.When the higher ups asked her what she was doing, she explained. Their comment that was beneath her,get an aide to help the patient. Her comment was one all her aides were extremely busy and it was her job to make sure each resident was taken care of completely and no job was beneath her.

  • britney aquino

    I went to the va in febuary and couldnt get word back from my doctor for a month after leaving messages every day..and still never fill my prescription its july.. good thing it wasn’t life threatening

  • Anonymous

    Delaying treatment until patients die are Obamacare’s REAL Death Panels! What must occur for liberal ‘journalists’ to publicize Washington has declared WAR on us?

  • Patrick Sargent

    Everyone’s missing a key point, had this happened at a civilian hospital the outcome would have been no different. What would have been different is it wouldn’t have made the news. I’m a paramedic, and I can tell you if someone falls in a hospital or in the parking lot of a hospital an ambulance WILL be called. And yes, sometimes that means driving the patient around to the other side of the damn building to the ER. You can thank lawyers and all of you sue happy idiots for forcing hospitals and insurance companies to employ such rediculous policies. THIS HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH IT BEING A VA HOSPITAL.

  • Anonymous

    You have a very wise and compassionate mother.

  • Patrick Sargent

    As I said previously you can’t blame healthcare workers, EMS, paramedics, or hospitals for these rediculous protocols. They were put in pace because of lawyers and frivolous suits. If you want to blame someone, you can blame the jerks that sue hoping to make a quick easy buck at the expense of everyone else.

  • Patrick Sargent

    Then you’d better stay home, never going anywhere. This is true nearly everywhere.

  • Patrick Sargent

    I think you proved a point “Coworker or friend”, your acting on emotion not duty, what if it were stranger? Would you risk your job then?

  • Patrick Sargent

    I’m curious if you can please cite your source for the said “federal law” I’d honestly like to see it. Patient abandonment is stretching it a bit, even if someone were providing aid or CPR handing the patient off to EMS in an emergent situation would be following proper transfer of patient care and hierarchy. It’s no different than a doctor stopping at the scene of a wreck, they are acting as a first responder (layperson) not a doctor.

  • Mathew Threadgill

    Yes I can, reference the EMTALA law. And no you aren’t getting what I’m saying. If an ambulance crew in already in the ER with a patient and they have not actually handed the patient off (even if we place someone the waiting room we, by definition handed the patient off to the charge nurse) to someone of equal or higher training then that by definition is abandonment.

  • Mathew Threadgill

    Not enough information here to make any sort of decision one way or another. Give me a detail scenario and I will give you an answer. What I can tell you is that I have been required to make that decision before and more then once I have had to answer for why I deveated from policy.

  • Mathew Threadgill

    Not true either. That is location dependent. But EMTALA clearly states that once on hospital property the patient is no longer EMSs patient it is the hosptial. If the hospital wishes to have the patient transported then they need to transfer the patient. Plan and simple a doc or nurse can’t hand the patient off to someone of lower training. And by definition Paramedics are of lower training.

  • Mathew Threadgill

    I don’t think you understand abandonment. Putting the patient in the waiting room is not abandonment. If a patient is placed in the waiting room by definition the patient is being placed in the care of the charge nurse. As such we left the patient in the care of someone of equal or higher training. As for in hospital setting that is different and I can’t speak for that. I don’t work in a hospital, rather in the field.

  • Al Baniya

    You are a lamp of liberty, a shining beacon for all to see. Glow brighter, shine bigger: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0094KY878