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Elderly man’s family disgusted at father’s treatment

Michael DeCosta and his two siblings regret that their elderly father Edward ever went into King Edward VII Memorial in December 2009.

The 84-year-old had Lou Gehrig's disease, which is also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, meaning he'd lost control of many motor functions and needed a tube inserted into his stomach in order to be fed.

“He went in and had the surgery,” said Mr DeCosta. “The doctor, when they put in the tube, he nicked one of the intestines. The intestine repaired around the tube and wasn't passing the food through.”

After Mr DeCosta Sr was discharged from hospital he became seriously ill and returned to the emergency room. His son says he waited from 8am to 5pm to see a doctor.

“He was in pretty bad shape. I arrived and made a little bit of noise and he was seen. They had to pump his stomach out to give him any relief. He had to go through the operation again to rectify it.”

Mr DeCosta said the second surgery went well but while his father, from Pembroke, was recovering in Gordon Ward he caught a virus, followed swiftly by another.

“Within about two to three days he was dead. I understand things don't always go perfect but this was a screw-up from the start.”

Mr DeCosta said he never made a formal complaint but was disgusted with how his father was treated in ER, unhappy with the first operation and disturbed that his father caught two viruses while at KEMH.

He also felt the atmosphere on Gordon Ward, where loud televisions were playing, did nothing to help his father recuperate.

“He would have been better off without the doctors and the nurses,” said Mr DeCosta. “The environment would have been much more comfortable for him at home and he probably would have been safe.”

A Bermuda Hospitals Board spokeswoman said Mr DeCosta's main complaint was with the surgeon who did the first operation.

“Surgeons are not hospital employees but private practitioners. They are accountable for their patients' management and treatment decisions, not BHB, although complaints can be made through us and we will investigate.”

She added: “BHB does want to hear more about Mr DeCosta's father's experience in Emergency and on the ward, which are directly our responsibility.

“Emergency has introduced many improvements since 2009 [including] reduced waiting times both for seeing an emergency physician and for finding a bed on a ward.

“Similarly, attention has been paid to the ward environment. Noise had been raised as an issue in our patient satisfaction survey and is something we have been working to improve.”

Mr DeCosta said he didn't know the name of the doctor who carried out the first surgery.

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Published February 28, 2012 at 8:00 am (Updated February 28, 2012 at 8:48 am)

Elderly man’s family disgusted at father’s treatment

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