An Ohio family was told a relative was dying, when in reality, staff had mixed up the patient information and relayed the status of another woman.
Andrea Stebbins took her 56-year-old mother, Belinda Helton, to Mercy St. Vincent's Medical Center in Toledo, Ohio, for a routine dental procedure, WTVG reports.
"I was expecting to come back and my mother would be in recovery, maybe a little dopey, but fine,” Stebbins told the station. “It was just a tooth extraction.”
While she waited for her mother to get out of surgery, Stebbins was told by a doctor and a nurse that Helton had gone into cardiac arrest and was on life support. Stebbins was told to notify family immediately.
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"I couldn't breathe,” she said.
“Just talking about it still is hard," she added. "It was very scary."
A few minutes later, the doctor returned to say they had made a mistake and that Stebbins was given information about another patient.
"I can take anxiety like that for a few minutes, but we notified my 87-year-old grandmother and made her aware that her daughter was dying,” Stebbins said. “You can't take that back."
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Stebbins said her mother is doing well and that she hopes sharing her experience prevents this situation from happening to another family.
"You don't want that day to come, when they tell you your mom has an hour or two left,” she said. “It was very traumatizing for me."
Following the incident, the hospital released a statement:
The compassionate and high quality care we provide to our patients and their families is of the utmost priority to all of us at Mercy. Yesterday afternoon, a family who was waiting for a loved one at Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center, was incorrectly notified about the condition of their loved one. The clinical team recognized the error within minutes and the notification was corrected. We sincerely apologize to the family and are committed to reviewing notification protocols to prevent such occurrences moving forward.
In October 2015, a trust with the U.K.'s National Health Service apologized after informing Liz Page that her 94-year-old mother had died in March 2014, BBC News reported. Page kissed the forehead of another woman and had started preparing funeral arrangements before being told that her mother was still alive.