An Atlanta woman with a life-threatening disease recently had to walk out of a Georgia emergency room and call 911 to get the help she needed, the woman and her boyfriend say.
CBS-Atlanta reports Christy Mitchell suffers from a rare lung disease that makes it difficult for her blood to deliver oxygen throughout her body. She carries with her a special pump that circulates medicine through her blood vessels every two minutes.
Last week that pump malfunctioned so Mitchell got her boyfriend, Brannon Chappell, to drive her to Gwinnett Medical Center, the closest hospital.
But she and Chappell both say Mitchell waited in an exam room so long they were worried a nurse or doctor wouldn’t arrive before it was too late.
“I feared that she was going to die on that bed before a nurse even entered her room,” Chappell told WGCL News, who first reported the incident. “Not once did a nurse walk through the threshold of that door to check on her.”
“I felt helpless,” Mitchell said. “We even asked if we could call the PA from Emory that works with me all the time so that she could explain how important it was for this medication to be restarted, and her response was they have no jurisdiction here.”
The two eventually decided they could get help sooner if they called paramedics. They walked out of the hospital and went to a nearby shopping center and called 911. Paramedics arrived almost immediately and administered life-saving treatment.
“Making that decision to leave the ER was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life,” Chappell said.
But Mitchell, who says she can only live for a few hours without the medication, said she was really left with no choice.
“I was starting to panic because the real fear of what could happen was hitting me,” she said.
The hospital declined to comment on the specific incident when asked by WGCL, but released a statement explaining hospital policy.
“In regards to the emergency room, patients are assessed and treated based on acuity,” the statement read. “Furthermore, initiation of certain treatments require physician orders to ensure patient safety. In addition, Gwinnett Medical Center has a process to address the concerns of patients or their family members. We highly encourage those individuals to take advantage of this service.”
Dr. Micah Fisher, Mitchell’s pulmonary specialist from nearby Emory Healthcare, said he wasn’t surprised no one at the hospital knew much about her condition because it is so rare. But that lack of knowledge shouldn’t have stopped her from quickly getting the help she needed, he said.
“They don't have to know how to manage the pump or manage the medication at that hospital,” Fisher said. “They just need to know how to put an IV in and the patient can do everything else.”