In Their Own Words

The outpouring of reader response included e-mails, letters and calls from patients who wanted to share their own experiences. They told of hospital-acquired infections and injuries, and just plain frustration.

Common themes emerged: No one listened; no one cared; there was nowhere to turn with my complaints.

The letters are published with the permission of their authors and have been edited for clarity and space. Because the Sun did not verify each story through medical records, all names of hospitals and medical providers have been removed.

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After receiving chemotherapy my mom suddenly had tremendous back pain. The doctors said it was normal and would pass in three days. Then they said it would take five days, seven days and so on. When she went to the oncologist — crying in pain and saying she wanted to die — instead of X-raying her, he gave her a prescription for Percocet and sent her home. He may as well have given her a loaded gun considering the state of mind she was in. Then we were told to try Tylenol. From Percocet to Tylenol? We called our family doctor and he said to take her to the emergency room. While there, the oncologist insisted to the ER nurse that they release my mom because there was nothing wrong. X-rays from the ER revealed she had two severe compression fractures in her spine. A procedure was done to repair her back and within a day she was fine. However, because it took so long to diagnose she required at least a month of rehab.

My mom was transferred to the rehab floor, but she was given very little rehabilitation, a lot of pain medicine and, for some reason, stool softener (four per day). One night the stool softener kicked in and she lost control of her bowels. In her haste to get to the bedside commode, she slipped in the diarrhea, hit her head and broke her hip. She was lifted back into her bed, where she continued to have diarrhea and laid there for hours in the feces. Nobody every X-rayed her head, even though she had a large lump. She was scheduled for surgery and her hip was repaired. Her rehab was a joke; nobody even tried to help her walk. Then they told her she would have to leave the hospital because she wasn't trying. They tried to release her without any of us present, telling her that her daughters had agreed to have her sent to a nursing home, something we would not and did not do. We had arranged for her to go to our brother-in-law's hospital, where we knew she would get good therapy. Within a week of being [there] she was walking.

After recovering from an injury that should not have happened, she needed to finish her cancer treatment, which involved radiation. She started the radiation on her throat and within two weeks could not eat or drink. We told the radiologist and oncologist, and they said she needed to keep trying. She ended up in the hospital dehydrated. We suggested a feeding tube and were told it wasn't necessary. After finishing radiation she had lost 40 pounds, plummeting to 100 pounds.

One day she was delirious and said she felt like she was dying. We brought her to the ER because she was shaking uncontrollably. They kept giving her blankets and we told them that she wasn't cold. She was incoherent. Luckily, a nurse decided to take her temperature with an oral thermometer, and they found she had a temperature of 106. She had a septic infection cause by her port. They removed the port and started IV antibiotics.

After being released she still was very weak and had not gained any weight. We convinced our doctor to have her admitted and started talking to her about getting a feeding tube. During this stay she was given a bone-marrow test and during the procedure she started to aspirate. They had fed her lunch and then given her morphine and lidocaine, causing her to vomit. They put a tube down her nose to suck up the vomit, but they put it too far down so it wasn't working. She ended up in ICU, completely delirious. The upside was that they were able to feed her through the tube. Once she was coherent, we talked her into the feeding tube and she started to gain weight.

She was released again and shortly thereafter fell and broke her other hip and shoulder. She was operated on quickly but, because she did not get an air mattress immediately, she got a bedsore. Because she was skin and bones there was nothing to cushion her. We asked and asked for an air mattress to be brought to her, but it took two days.

These are just a few of the instances of negligence and obliviousness we observed during this two-year ordeal. Like so many others', our concerns were dismissed. When we dared to question what certain nurses, therapists and doctors were doing, they immediately were insulted or tight-lipped in protection (like when they administered too much Phenergan and said her shaking was the chills). It is evident to me that nobody ever should leave a loved one in the hospital, especially overnight (like when my mom awoke to find a nurse rifling through her belongings), and that every medication being given should be questioned and researched thoroughly. Every procedure should be discussed in detail. Too many people put blind faith in the medical professionals without taking the time to realize they are humans. None of us are perfect at work, so why should we expect them to be? — Name withheld

I had total knee replacement surgery August 3 at [a local] hospital. All of the admissions, direct nursing care for the surgery and the surgery were excellent. However, my stay there was a much different experience and I did not have the choice, as the surgeon picks the hospital and the patient has little choice but to follow.

The people who work at [the local hospital] are fantastic, but I am not so sure anymore where the owners rank, given their priorities and how they allocate human resources there. Somehow abuse of patients pulls them down to earth. Stretching the staff too thing is like the Pharaoh telling the children of Israel to make bricks to build the pyramids without stubble. It can't be done!

On several occasions right after my surgery, I rang the nursing desk that I needed assistance to the restroom. They answered that they were coming and I anxiously laid waiting, sometimes leaking, and re-rang the desk at 10-minute intervals, again and again being told that someone was on their way. It was less than 24 hours after my surgery. After 50 minutes of no-shows, I rolled myself out of bed, disconnected myself from several machines and wrapped cords and tubes every which way to maneuver myself to the restroom for much-needed relief.

When did someone arrive? After I was finished and had pulled the cord next to the toilet for help. A nurse finally came in and chastised me for not waiting. Within an hour, several of the nursing staff came into my room without my prompting and inquired about the incident, and there were apologies. They were very sincere.

I could have lived and let live, but guess what? I needed assistance to the restroom again within 24 hours of this event, and to my amazement I once again had to unhook myself and walk myself to the restroom. And it happened again.

I ended up staying (and having to pay for) an extra day at the hospital as my stress level and blood pressure skyrocketed thanks to all of this anxiety. It has been three months since the operation and eventually I need to get my other knee done. I am extremely anxious about that as I don't want to relive the tortures of waiting on the mercy of others just to get to the restroom.

About a month and a half after the surgery, someone from Iowa called in the evening and said he was doing a survey about my experience at the hospital. No one else contacted me about my experience.

The tissues around my new knee have relentlessly bothered me since then, and I wonder if I did something wrong by getting myself out of bed and hobbling unassisted to the restroom. — Ali

In December of 2008, my husband had brain surgery for a subdural hemaotma. Upon his release from the hospital he developed a blood clot in his leg. We went to [a local] hospital. They said he needed to have an IVC filter put in ASAP. This was at about noon. They had no beds, so they transferred him to [another local] hospital around 4 p.m. Well, by 9 p.m. they still had not done the procedure and came into his room to say it would not be done until 9 a.m. the next day. By noon the next day, it still was not done, so the doctor in charge made some calls and had it done. My husband was discharged around 4 p.m.

The next day I got a call at work from the radiology department saying I needed to bring him back ASAP. I asked why and the tech said that they were reviewing his X-rays and that the filter had moved. I asked how they knew that since my husband was at home. She then told me that when the head of radiology was reviewing the X-rays he noticed that the wrong filter was put in and that it had been put in upside down. It could have migrated and gone to his heart and kill him.

We rushed back and while the doctor was taking it out he told my husband that they had used that one because it was the only one they had had. During the procedure he also said, "Oh, look, it did catch a blood clot. I am surprised."

Then, for the next 10 months we fought with the hospital over the bill they kept sending us for this screw-up. Finally we prevailed and did not have to pay it. Fortunately, my husband is fine now except for a scar he should not have from the second procedure. — Sara

In 2007 I was stopped at a red light when a pickup truck came out of nowhere and slammed into me, destroying my car. I walked away with what I thought were some cuts and bruises. Then, about three days later, I woke up in the middle of the night in the worst pain I ever had felt.

I crawled out of my bed onto the floor to reach the phone and call 911. The ambulance came and took me to [a local hospital], where for the next four days the inept doctors tried to figure out whether [the issue] was my appendix or my gallbladder. They had me on so many drugs because of the pain that all I could do was sleep. They had me hooked up to oxygen and put a mask over my face that was way too big and cut into both my eyes, and they thought that was just fine. Both my lungs had collapsed.

By the third day the two doctors still were arguing about what they thought my problem was. It got so bad they had to call in an outside surgeon to operate or I would have died. When they opened me up, they found that my appendix had burst and I was in a septic state. For saving my life, I only thank the doctor who was brought in.

The next-day instructions were for no solid food, but I was given a full meal that I refused to eat. I guess the nurses couldn't read.

I never again will go to [that hospital]. — Sandra

My ex-boyfriend almost died in 2006 because of negligence and lack of concern on the part of [two local hospitals] and one set of paramedics.

He had swallowed glass, which had lacerated his esophagus in two different places, and was in excruciating pain. Initially he went to [one local hospital], and after several hours in the ER waiting area, he finally was seen and they took an X-ray, found nothing (because glass may not show up on an X-ray), wrote him prescriptions for something like Motrin and Prilosec, and then sent him home. I promptly took him to [another local hospital], where they appeared to be put out and accused him for looking for drugs. They sent him home.

He went home and tried to comply with the discharge instructions from both hospitals. His throat was so badly swollen that he could not swallow and could barely breathe, and paramedics had to be called to the house. When they arrived, he was told that he needed to swallow his prescribed medications and he would get better. Then they left.

He struggled to make it through the night and somehow made it through the next day. Then the paramedics had to be called out again because he got much worse. This time, the paramedics took him to [a different local hospital], where a scan was done on his throat and they located the glass. It already had been two or three days since he had swallowed the glass and his body now was filled with infection. This hospital said that they didn't have the right specialist on staff to perform the surgery. They informed us that he would have to be transported to [the first hospital we went to].

I followed the ambulance there and entered the ER with him. His test results from [the second hospital] were taken quickly and promptly misplaced. He remained on a gurney in the ER hall for several hours with no attention. When someone did approach to ask what he was there for, we explained everything again, but to no avail. He became angry and was attempting to raise his voice. They saw him as a problem and decided to send him up to a private room, where he could not make a scene in front of other patients. By the time he was moved to a room, he was comatose and his blood pressure was almost non-existent. The nurse and aide that were going to take care of him in the private room immediately brought him back down to the ER, where certain members of the staff tried to argue with the nurse from upstairs. When the ER staff were forced to address the problem, they realized that he was dying and immediately intubated him and ran me out of the ER.

Fortunately, his mother and sister arrived from out of town shortly thereafter, and everyone confronted the ER staff. Then and only then did my ex-boyfriend get the health care needed to save his life. He was on life support for two weeks. During that time, he underwent major surgery, had to have fluid drained out of one of his lungs, had to have his heart stopped and restarted, and became as weak as a baby. He was moved from ICU to Cardiac ICU, where he remained until he was discharged from the hospital. His entire body was infected. It even was in his urine. This was a big, healthy man who works in construction.

Two separate comments that were made by personnel [from the first and last hospital] were "Someone dropped the ball in this case," and "They take care of their paying patients first." My ex-boyfriend, although a hard-working, tax-paying citizen of this country, did not have insurance benefits through his work. Was this the reason the hospitals were going to let him die or was it just sheer incompetence? I guess we never will know what the truth was in this particular case. Either way, it was deplorable and disgusting. — Shawn

In 2003 I had just recovered from a car accident that had left me out of work for three months because I couldn't use my right arm. I started working at a new job delivering doors and molding to construction sites. Within a week I got really sick and didn't have insurance, so I continued to work. I informed my boss and he said nothing, but the following day I called in sick and went to a nearby urgent care.

There I started to get sick and didn't feel right, and the doctor said they couldn't help me because they didn't have the right equipment, and they told me to go [a local] hospital. I asked if they were taking me there because I was weak, and they said no and that they felt I could go there myself. So, I did.

While I signed in I saw a gentleman collapse at the entrance of the ER, and they just put him in a wheelchair and left him there. Later, I couldn't stay focused any longer so I told the nurse I was going to my truck to lay down. She informed me I would lose my place. I sat there and then decided I would go home and lay down. When I got home, I didn't feel right and continued to get worse. After two more hours, I called 911. The ambulance came and took me to a different hospital after I had told them about my experience at the previous hospital.

When I arrived, I was in the hallway and the doctors told me I was going to have surgery before my appendix burst. By then I was out of it because I didn't know they had medicated me already. After surgery, the doctor said my appendix burst during the procedure and they had to clean me up. After three weeks I was released and was told I had to see a doctor. I was in so much pain that I had to hold on to something before I passed out, so I held onto the counter and the nurse yelled at me to get back in line. I filed a grievance, but nothing came of it. I will never, ever go back there. — Christopher

Hmm... which story to pick? Do I talk about the endocrinologist who was so inept that he missed a disorder that put 45 pounds on my 5-foot-3 frame in less than a month, with a dismissive "You must be eating a lot"? I later discovered gallbladder disease, pancreatitis and Hashimoto's Thyroidosis. The pancreas is an endocrinologist's speciality organ, right?

Maybe I should chat about an emergency-room doctor at a [local] hospital who, as I sat there throwing up for almost two hours, yelled at the members of his nursing staff for attempting to sooth me as I obviously was, in his words, "dramatic." I later discovered I had an infection in my heart. What a drama that was, trying not to die in his ER so I could be seen by my doctor two days later, severely dehydrated and now made to take far more medications than I otherwise would have had to had I been treated the first time.

Maybe I should chat about the time I was bitten by an animal, and the hospital that I went to decided they couldn't find the right doctor for almost 24 hours. I wasn't allowed pain meds until they found someone to see me. No one saw me at all. Meanwhile, my hand swelled up to the size of a baseball mitt, and I had to take an ambulance to a second hospital — with me being charged for the ride, of course. I nearly lost my finger because of the delayed care. That was fun.

I know... I can talk about the hospital that left me without a required blood test needed before surgery. I was in the hospital with gallstones and pancreatitis and was becoming septic, but the floor physician didn't get around to ordering a test that was supposed to be stat, for a surgeon. The surgeon was trying to determine how high my levels were to decide if I was septic or needed an additional surgery. It took four days. It would have taken six, but several people complained to the patient advocate and finally a celebrity friend made a bit of noise. It turned out the person who was supposed to do the test was on maternity leave, but she had a beeper, was in the building the entire time and even said "My orders are to answer the beeper as long as I'm on the premises, and I've been here the entire time." By the time she was called, I needed a PICC line because every vein had been blown by the numerous IVs.

One nurse was convinced I had MRSA. I nearly was septic on the way to surgery, when yet another fumble happened. Six minutes before being rolled into the operating room the surgeon discovered that the pregnancy test that I took the day I entered the hospital was missing from the file, so I had to have an emergency pregnancy test before being operated on. The nurse told me "Oh, this happens all the time." Not to me, it doesn't. Then, after the surgery, I was given the wrong pain medications, meaning I had to stay in the hospital an extra two days.

By the way, no one removed the surgical stockings from my legs. Finally, the surgeon, who was in seeing another patient, ordered the removed and had my pain medications changed. It was a nightmare. — Cathe

In the past month, I personally have experienced shock and horror after finding that our county, filled with some of the finest physicians in the world, also is home to some of the most callous hospital centers one possibly could imagine.

My first encounter was with [one area hospital]. On October 4, my daughter — her Cobra coverage exhausted and she unable to find work because of the painful disability for which she sought treatment — was admitted with an obstruction in her intestines that prevented her from eliminating natural body waste. During the next two weeks, Sarah was shuffled between surgeons and doctors, each of whom opined that it was the other's area of practice.

Though I pleaded with the administration and even the county commissioners, on October 19 my daughter was met by several physicians, an administrator and a so-called "patient advocate," who informed her that her condition was not treatable. The patient advocate sided with the physicians. My daughter's only minor relief comes from abstaining from intaking solid foods.

My daughter was released and was required to travel to [a local towing company] to retrieve her impounded vehicle, which had been towed without even the courtesy from the city of determining whether she was a patient at the hospital. She has received no treatment for her illness. Instead, she received a letter stating she was totally disabled.

This treatment is not confined to only our public hospitals. On or about October 5, a paralegal from my office was admitted to a [local hospital's] emergency room, at the instruction of her physician, with diagnosed deep vein thrombosis and extreme vaginal bleeding resulting from Coumadin treatment. Initially, the hospital's treating physician informed this patient that a battery of tests would be run immediately. The next morning, however, another physician berated the patient in front of witnesses and complained loudly with respect to her severe bleeding. He went on to insinuate that she was a drain on hospital resources and needed to seek the services of a gynecologist.

She was discharged, without treatment, in a non-ambulatory condition as a result of the DVT. She literally was discharging blood clots vaginally and, at this point, had lost approximately three units of blood.

On October 11, at the instruction of her physician, she was admitted to [a different local hospital]. The staff and physicians there immediately sprang into action in attempts to control the bleeding, prevent migration of blood clotting and determine the cause of the clotting. She was given four units of blood, a filter was surgically inserted into her neck and a CT scan was run. She was diagnosed with metastatic pancreatic cancer almost immediately. She will be undergoing treatment for her cancer, but has been advised that it is inoperable and the average life expectancy at this point in her condition is approximate three weeks.

I am an attorney. I have no desire to sue these hospitals. Lawsuits for money can never compensate for the humiliation experienced by these two women. My question to you is will the public continue to accept such treatment from those we trust to care for our lives. Money damages will not stem the tide of reckless disregard evidenced in these instances and many more of which I have no knowledge. It is only the public outcry which can bring about true accountability. — David

My brother had Down syndrome and was diagnosed with prostrate cancer in early 2009. He went into [a local hospital] on June 10 and had a prostatectomy performed. The doctor said he was doing fine that Friday and possibly could go home the next day. That afternoon the day nurse noticed he had breathing problems and gave him oxygen for a short period of time.

He died that night from aspiration pneumonia (according to autopsy findings).

It should be noted that his primary-care physician approved the surgery and when we requested his file from (the doctor's office), the approval letter that was faxed to the doctor who performed the surgery was not in there.

When requesting my brother's file from the doctor who performed the surgery, they could not find his file.

We contacted several lawyers to look into whether there was negligence and were turned down over and over again because they use the doctor who performed the surgery as an expert witness in accident cases.

There will be no justice for my brother. He was 51 and loved life. — Fannie

In August 2009 my daughter was admitted to [a local hospital]. She was there exactly one month, and if had not been with her the whole time she would have died because the nurses did not read the charts properly and were just plain negligent.

Here are just a few examples of what they did:
• My daughter has less than 45 percent kidney function and the doctor wrote "do not give [ibuprofen]" because it adds to kidney damage, but the nurses gave my daughter [ibuprofen] every two hours.
• She was getting iron infusions, which take up to four hours to do, but the nurse miscalculated the ratio and the infusions happened in 15 minutes (the nurse shrugged and said she hadn't done that type of calculation in three years).
• They gave my daughter a very strong diuretic because she wasn't urinating and though the medicine takes effect immediately, an hour had gone by and no urine was coming out, so I told the nurse that maybe the catheter was plugged with debris. She finally listened to me and flushed the tube and urine gushed out. It could have destroyed my daughter's kidneys or burst them.
• Student nurses would come in and mess with my daughter's medication without knowing what they were doing.
• They inserted a PIC line in my daughter, but the nurse mis-measured the length of tubing from her arm to her heart, which could have pierced my daughter's heart.
• They also reused syringes and did not give the full dose of antibiotics through my daughter's IV.

The nurses did not seem skilled at all, and my biggest complaint is that they did not listen to the parent or the doctor! — Melissa

After the urgings of my OB/GYN, I chose to have my baby at [a local hospital] on May 16, 2008, despite living closely to [another local hospital].

Shortly after being closed up after my C-section, I began vomiting repeatedly (15 times, to be exact). My doctor and the nurses surrounded my bed looking perplexed and very concerned. I thought nothing about it — I assumed it was the anesthesia. My doctor instructed the nurse to inject my IV with anti-nausea medication. I almost immediately ceased vomiting. However, I still felt nauseous. At each time the medication wore off, I would begin vomiting again until injected with medication again.

For the first day after my surgery, I was completely useless (this is not normal after a C-section). I could not hold my baby or keep my eyes open. I also could not sleep. By the evening of the second day, I finally was able to get out of bed to retrieve my baby from the nursery. As I stepped into the hallway, I was overwhelmed with the extremely offensive odor of diesel fumes. I turned to the nearest nurse and exclaimed, "Oh my God, what is that?" She replied, "Oh I know — isn't it terrible. That is what we smell every time a helicopter takes off."

In one day, I noticed from the window in my room at least 12 instances of helicopters taking off.

The floor that I stayed on for four days is the floor of new mothers. It is the same floor of new babies. It is the same floor where the neo-natal intensive care unit is housed. It is a floor where staff work all day long, every day.

The last I checked, carbon monoxide, which is present in diesel fumes, is deadly.

On the fourth day, my doctor came to discharge me from the hospital. He said, "You're not vomiting anymore, are you?" "No, but I have had to take the medication to stop it the entire time and I've remained nauseous." *Look of concern and confusion* "But, doctor, I know why now....."

He left the room to "interview" every staff member about what I said. He came back with their names written down on a piece of paper. And completely incredulous, said, "It's true." (Yeah, I know you thought I was crazy, but I know it's true).

My doctor proceeded to attend hospital meetings (uninvited) to discuss the issue of diesel fumes entering the hospital. He was instructed to stop talking about it and invited to leave the meetings. The charge nurse asked my doctor, "Why are you always trying to make trouble for this hospital." She instructed her staff not to talk to my doctor about it ever again.

I then wrote a letter to the hospital describing my experience and instructed them to remove any charges of anti-nausea medication from my bill. "Your hospital made me sick. Your hospital made me vomit over and over and over again. I will always wonder about any effects my son may have as a result of breathing in your diesel fumes."

I never received a response. In fact, I never received a bill at all. — Tina

My husband went into [a local hospital] for a aorta valve replacement on Dec. 19, 2008. The surgery was a success. The next day he was walking and eating. Two days later I received a call that he had taken a turn for the worse. By the time I got to the hospital he was gone. I was told that he had a rapid infection. — Name withheld

My daughter was diagnosed with Ewings Sarcoma cancer in May 20099, and started to receive medical treatments at [a local hospital]. All was OK until about three months later when I started to notice a decline in the care on the floor for cancer patients. I had to watch all the nurses come in the room all night long and make sure my daughter was given the right medicine and to watch them hook up the tubing. One almost-fateful night a nurse had come into start chemo, and she had faulty tubing but did not know it. She didn't see the two-foot air bubble in it, which I caught before the bubble would have been administered to my daughter, which would have caused her death.

When I brought it to the nurses' attention, they played it off as no big deal. They fumbled around trying to hook up new tubing, which gave me the impression they had no clue as to how to do it. The supervisor then was brought in as she acted concerned, but she really had no concern thereafter. I demanded the nurses not attend to my daughter, and she only could reassure me for that night. I wanted the nurses to be reprimanded, but no such luck; they still practice on that floor. I never was properly given nurses' names. When I asked for them they were afraid of what might happen, I guess?. My calls never were returned when I called the main office. And nothing was ever done. My three-page letter includes one of their copies that they swear they do but do not follow.

Only a couple of nurses that work there actually care! Sad when you already are dealing with a sick child fighting for her life that you have to watch like a hawk so they don't kill her with negligence! — Brandy

About a year and a half ago I had a minor heart attack, and the next day, on the advice of my ex-wife, I walked into [a local] hospital. After a few tests they told me I had in fact had a heart attack and they would have to admit me for a couple days to do what they call a cath lab where they can see where the blockage is or if you need a stent. After preforming this cath lab they then put me in a recovery room, at which time I kept on complaining that there was something wrong because my leg was killing me. I kept telling them was something wrong and finally was told, "We'll give you some more morphine." I'm not sure how long it was, but eventually they took me into emergency surgery, where they found out that they had botched the lab and that I was bleeding internally into my leg. A two-day stay turned into a two-month stay and, to this day, my leg still feels strange and not right. I looked into getting a malpractice lawyer, but with the way the laws are, if they don't find in your favor you are responsible for all costs, which scared me enough to not even try. It's a sad state of affairs when you can't even trust doctors or a hospital to take care of you. — Dave

My husband went into (a) hospital with severe stomach pain, which was diagnosed as pancreatitis in December 2005. We were told he would be in the hospital a couple of days and then go home on a liquid/soft diet. The next day he was moved to ICU. He got an infection, his body swelled up, and he died 11 days later. His death certificate says cardiopulmonary arrest, cardiac asystole, and respiratory arrest. I just wonder what the real cause of death was, especially now that you've come out with this article. Thank you for listening; we were married just short of 40 years, and he died on our only child's birthday. — Mary

In May 2001, I was hit by a car and was taken by ambulance to (a hospital). I stayed there for a few weeks and then was taken to their rehab center. I was out of it all the time at (the hospital), and when I came out of my drug-induced haze at the rehab center I noticed this horrific infection in my leg.

It was a small area, but pretty deep, with pus oozing out and a disgusting smell.

I was at rehab for a couple of weeks, and nobody noticed this. The nurses had to help me shower and none of them noticed anything. They made a follow-up appointment for me to see the doctor on call in 30 days, and when I saw her, she wanted to know how long I had the infection. I told her I had it at the rehab center, and she said I couldn't have, that she would have noticed.

She wanted me to go back to (the hospital), but I said no. In about one week I went and saw my regular doctor. I told her that I would not go back to (the hospital), but I wanted her to do anything she could do to help me.

She put a cotton swab in the wound to send the bacteria to a lab to get a culture. While she was waiting for the results, she gave me a shot of an antibiotic and gave me some other pills to take with me, and she told me that every time I changed my bandage I should rinse my wound with hydrogen peroxide.

When I went back in about 10 days she was surprised at how good it looked. She got the results of the culture and gave me the proper antibiotics to take care of it. She said the infection was so nasty that she was afraid I was going to lose my leg.

And just one more thing: I remember awhile back somebody said patients should be taken to hospitals in Utah instead of the ones here in Vegas. Back in the mid '90s I worked at Zion lodge and had occasion to use the emergency room at a hospital in St. George.

What a difference! Like night and day. So clean, and the workers were so nice and so professional, and none of them asked me how I was going to pay for it. Their only concern was my reason for being there and how they could help me. — Nancy

This is a story about my 13-year-old grandson. On June 23 of this year, he complained about a terrible pain in his abdomen. His mother took him to an (emergency-care facility). There they were told that there would be a two- to six-hour wait to be seen. His mother then took him to the only hospital her health insurance contracted with. He was examined and the preliminary diagnosis was sever appendicitis. Tests were run and the medical staff indicated that his appendix had burst and that they lacked the resources to successfully treat him. He was taken by ambulance to another hospital.

There, she was told that no operating rooms were available. They indicated that he would be treated during the wait time and operated on as soon as an OR became available. He was admitted and treated with doses of morphine to dull the severe pain until he could be operated on. Shortly after 5 p.m., my grandson was taken to surgery and had his ruptured appendix removed. The time span from first arriving to the surgery was 17 hours.

He was released July 2 after having difficulties with the lingering effects of peritonitis. He also was weaned off the morphine. The doctor advised him to just get used to the pain; that it eventually would get better. He is recovering slowly. He has some of his appetite back and complains about not being able to do all the things he used to do, like ride a bike.

The night of July 8 my grandson felt pain in his abdomen again. The doctor was called and indicated that he should be taken to the emergency room. The first diagnosis was that he probably had developed an ulcer in his abdomen, but he was scheduled for more tests to be certain.

I am sending this because I am so negative about these hospitals. When you are a patient at a medical facility that does not have a published complaint procedure, you are a victim twice. I or members of my family have been treated at these hospitals seven times during the past 20 years, and each time it was a terrible experience. — Ron

Your feature has brought back memories of my experience at (a hospital) in June 2007. Every time I pass by that hospital now I say a prayer for the (patients).

Experiencing severe abdominal pains, I went to (the emergency room) and was sent home with pain meds for "gastritis." When the pain did not decrease, my boyfriend took me back. The ride there was excruciating. I remember writhing in pain and crawling all over his car trying to get into a position that would make the pain ease in any way.

I was admitted on a Saturday night and medicated. I was put in a warm room lacking air conditioning at a far corner of the floor. A doctor came by and told me that I would need to ask for more pain meds if I needed them because they could not get a surgeon in to do exploratory surgery until the next day (which was Sunday and Father's Day). Then he left. He ended up costing me hundreds of dollars later because he was an out-of-network consultant with my insurance company.

Shortly after he left the pain grew intolerable. I pushed the help button and no nurse came. I couldn't stay in the bed. I dropped myself to the floor and lay my head on the cool tile. I screamed for help. I couldn't do anything but lie there writhing on the floor and scream.

No one came, except for a janitor. He put his mop and bucket aside and ventured into my room. He knelt down and said he would get help.

Finally a nurse came. She intubated me and installed a morphine drip. I had a colectomy the next day after the surgeon found a necrotic bowel blockage and removed 15 inches of my gut. Adhesions and scar tissue from a previous ruptured-appendix surgery had caused the total blockage. I was incredibly lucky that I didn't die of sepsis.

I was hospitalized for a week. I would only return to (that hospital) if it were the last hospital on Earth. — Nancy

My sister went in to (a hospital) on May 19 and is still in ICU as of today, June 29. She went in for a simple removal of polyps on her ovaries. Her urethra was cut during the operation and they did not know it for four days. By then they were talking about putting her on dialysis. By the time they operated to fix it, she had a 50 percent chance of living. Within a couple of days they had to intubate her. Yesterday (June 28) they did a (tracheotomy). She has so much infection that they had to go in a third time to clean the incision out. Each day brings something new. — Mary

I would like to know why hospital-caused, bacteria-resistance infections are not listed as a harmful event.

My husband was admitted to (a hospital) in July 2008 with a pulmonary embolism. During the time he was (there), the nurse in the intensive care unit came and went between patients, wearing the same gown and mask, just washing her hands in between.

I am sure many other patients in the intensive care unit at that time suffered from the same infection.

By the time my husband was sent to (another hospital), he had a hospital-caused, drug-resistant staph infection that contributed to his death. In the weeks before he died he was in a drug-induced coma. They had to keep him that way because he would become combative when conscious.

He finally suffered a fatal heart attack, and I believe the intensive care unit at (the first hospital) was a major factor in his death. — Joy

I was taken to (an emergency room) in the middle of the night in May. I was experiencing chest pains so severe that I thought I was having a heart attack. My stomach had blown up so big that it was really hard and it was hard to breathe from all the pressure on my lungs.

My husband rushed me to (the hospital), and the nightmare began. It took them forever just to get my insurance information into the computer, and if I was having a heart attack, I would have died by that time. They finally got me hooked up to do an EKG about 30 minutes later.

The nurses and staff were horrible and rude! I was in there for about eight hours total. They performed some tests and X-rays of my chest and abdomen. I was not in a regular hospital bed, but a cot with no pillow and stained sheets. The nurses kept changing and none of them were able to get an IV going correctly.

Finally, I was tired of being stabbed over and over again and just said forget it. My husband was getting so angry at how they were treating me that he felt so bad he even brought me there in the first place.

To make this nightmare even worse, the doctor said he thought I was experiencing thickening around the gall bladder, but he didn't know for sure. He didn't know if he thought I should have it removed.

I have since then been having so many issues getting this taken care of because after seeing both a surgeon and my PCP, the tests that they supposedly did at (the hospital) were all incomplete and did not provide them with any information.

This is the worst hospital experience I have ever seen. If this would have happened to one of my grandparents while they were still alive, I would have been furious and the entire media would have been notified. I have great health insurance and coverage and am paying my portion myself. No one should ever have to put up with experiences like this ever! It is unacceptable. — Name withheld

My husband was a patient in six (area) hospitals (nine separate admissions) continuously for seven months from Sept. 13, 2008, to April 9, 2009. We were then sent by air ambulance to San Diego, to be closer to home. He was in four hospitals (two times each) in San Diego, until his passing on Oct. 21, 2009.

The reason for his hospitalization: He fell and broke his hip. He never walked again. Over the next few months, he lost 50 pounds and was diagnosed with conditions I was told "everyone gets that in the hospital." He developed a Stage 4 bedsore which never healed.

I was at his bedside 12 to 14 hours a day, every day. I participated in his care and kept a close eye on all his medications. I was the one who discovered someone else's medication going into his IV. One subacute hospital, in particular, was substandard. When I couldn't wake him up one afternoon, the nurse told me, "Let him sleep; he needs his rest." I went to the head nurse, she called his doctor and my husband immediately was rushed to the main hospital.

This place also was where he was first diagnosed with C-Dif, the condition that "everyone gets," etc. His overall health deteriorated drastically. My husband should not have died from a broken hip. — Ruth

My husband was hospitalized ... May 13, 2010, for what is called a "mini-maze." It is a cardiac procedure to eliminate atrial fibrillation, a common heart disorder ... Within three hours of his being released, he could not breathe. He was sent home with pneumonia, broken ribs (from the surgery), and to make matters worse he wouldn't go back to the hospital. Eight days later I was able to persuade him to go back to the hospital ...

He was admitted with pneumonia, difficulty breathing and on oxygen. Three days after he was admitted he called me to inform me that he couldn't breathe and the nurses wouldn't help him. I left work immediately and drove to the hospital.

Expecting to find several people attending to him, I only found his nurse typing away laconically on her laptop computer in my husband's room ...

I noted my husband's pallor was white, his lips blue and his gums blue. His oxygen cannula was properly attached to him, set at 2 percent, and yet he was laboring to breathe. I told the nurse I wanted a doctor immediately. She said my husband just needed to calm down ...

The nurse strolled back in giving me a measured stare and informed me, " Ma'am, a doctor has been paged and that is all that we can do ..."

I grabbed my husband's hands and said, "Look at the color of his hands — they're BLUE!"

The floor nurse came into my husband's room and patted him on the shoulder, saying, "I know it can be scary when you can't breathe ... Just calm down and take some deep breaths." ...

NO ONE was listening to me! At that moment by the grace of God, I found a portable SPO2 monitor ... and put it on my husband's finger.

His SPO2 was at 77 percent. Normal is 98 to 100 percent. I ran in the hall and yelled my husband's SPO2 is 77 percent! I want a DOCTOR. NOW!

I was wearing scrubs (as part of my job) when I got to the hospital, knowing this can be an added benefit when you want nurses or doctors to actually listen to you. However it made no difference this day.

When I FINALLY got their attention the floor nurse said, "Why don't you call the rapid response team? It's been at least a half an hour since he started having trouble breathing." The rapid response team was called and things started to happen .... (My husband) was put on 100 percent oxygen and stayed that way for three or four more days before they could start weaning him off oxygen ...

What I'd like to know is what about the people who have absolutely no medical background and are at the mercy of these hospitals? What would have happened to my husband if I had been in surgery the day he called and I was unable to take his call? Who would have listened to him then? Certainly not his nurse. — Cheryl

I felt you should hear my story. Although it is not as serious as the other stories, it could have lead to that. I am 69 years old, and I live in Henderson.

I had a small stroke in my sleep a couple of months ago ... I didn't ask my husband to take me to the hospital as I had a doctor appointment the next day and wasn't sure what was wrong with me.

When I saw the doctor, I told her that I couldn't use my left hand. She had just received the results of my blood test and it showed my blood was thick. She immediately said I had to go to the emergency room.

I live in Henderson, but (the closest hospital) was not able to take me, so she sent me to (another hospital). I received good care in the emergency room and was admitted to stay ...

I received a lot of tests, even an MRI of my brain. The techs were great. The next morning, the doctor came by to see me, didn't tell me anything and I still needed another test. After the last test, the nurse came in my room and told me that everything was all right and that I was being sent home.

I told her I was not going anywhere until I saw a doctor to tell me what was wrong with my hand ... The doctor called. Mind you I was never seen by a neurologist or any other doctor, other than the ones in the emergency room.

When (the doctor) called, I told him that I was told by the nurse that everything was fine and that I was being sent home. I told him that I was not leaving the hospital until I found out what's wrong with my hand.

He then told me, "You had stroke." I had a stroke, I said. That was it. He never told me who to see or what to do.

I figured I was better off finding out what to do on my own than depending on him. So I called the doctor who sent me to the emergency room in the first place, my OB/GYN. I went to see her the next day. When I told her what happened at the hospital, she was very upset and told me she was setting me up with a plan. First a hematologist, then a cardiologist, then a neurologist.

Yes, I had had a stroke, and the MRI showed it, plus one I had had 10 years ago. I have "advanced intracranial cerebrovascular disease," which is the cause of both strokes and can cause more. I also have cervical degenerative disk disease, lumbar degenerative disk disease, carpal tunnel syndrome and distal symmetrical demyelinating neuropathy. All this and more was found by the neurologist, who I never saw at the hospital. I was put on Plavix and low-dose aspirin to try and prevent more strokes.

What I'm getting at is the tests and techs were great, but the doctor on call could have cared less. He should have had a neurologist speak with me at the hospital or at the least told me what to do when I left. If it wasn't for my OB/GYN and her referrals, I probably would have had another stroke.

Just thought you might want to know. I didn't die, but not knowing what to do for myself when I left the hospital could have been very bad for me. Thank God for my OB/GYN and her caring about me. And I had seen her only a few times as we are new to Nevada. We came from California and bought our home in July 2009.

Are we safe here? My husband is 75, and I'm 69. He's in good health. I'm, well, let's say trying to get better.

Should we get out of Dodge and back to California for our well-being? — Name withheld

My mother was taken to (a) hospital. She had an stoke, but they misdiagnosed her. Myself, I broke my ankle at work. I went to (the same) hospital. They said it was serve sprain. It turned out to be broken with hairline fractures and torn ligaments. — Jim

Our friend fell in our home while vacationing here. She is in her late 60s or early 70s, and her leg broke badly in a couple of places. The folks at (a hospital) cared for her and turned her over to (another medical facility). Quite sure that the doctor at (the first hospital) got a kickback from steering (our friend) to the (other) facility. She was left, unseen for hours when she rang for help. Her roommate slept all day and made ugly noises and screamed all night.

She checked out sooner than her doctor advised because she wanted to flee (the second facility). She went back to Mexico, where she got great treatment for very little money. She paid all her outstanding bills here over time. I think she even paid (the second facility) for not providing an appropriate level of care.

Thanks Jim Gibbons for overseeing health care here in Nevada. — Wallace

I am a charge nurse in (a local hospital's) ICU and a Certified Wound Care RN. Your article presents information that is disturbing for me as an RN and as a patient.

Any incident that causes harm to a patient makes one wonder what is going on in hospitals these days. Is it because nurses are poorly trained? Is it because most hospitals are hung up on the bottom line and require (both subtly and overtly) their personnel to do more with less? Is it the ratio of patients to nurses? Is it attitude? Do physicians, nurses, and other health care personnel just not care anymore? Is it that patients are extremely ill by the time they are admitted for treatment? Or does a part of the causal factors fall directly on patient and patient family attitude?

Recently we took care of a man who was admitted for exacerbation of congestive heart failure. He had a long history of sleep apnea and his pulmonologist prescribed a BIPAP machine during the hours of sleep. The patient angrily refused to wear the breathing machine because, as he put it, it didn't look good on him and he didn't like wearing it. In short, he refused care that would have helped him.

This same patient made the nursing staff very aware that he knew his right to be involved in his treatment plan, and he had the right to refuse any or all treatment that might be planned.

Furthermore, this particular patient was verbally abusive to the female nursing staff. When he was displeased about having medications brought at times he didn't want them, he would respond by calling the nurses, "Stupid bitches." Many times there are circumstances that are not brought to light with regard to supposed "abuse" or "neglect" cases. As charge nurse, I am in contact with my nurses during the 12 hours of every shift I work and can tell you all of our nurses are devoted to attending to the needs of their patients — even patients who show little or no respect for the nursing staff.

The case of the gentleman who developed a Stage 4 pressure ulcer is bothersome at many levels. My heart goes out to him. Pressure ulcers are painful, but beyond that they affect the individual psychologically for as long as it takes to heal the wound.

However, I can't help but wonder if his gout pain created a limited level of cooperation with regard to being turned, bathed or cleaned after bowel movements. Today's nurses are not the Sari Gamp type. We are highly educated. Most of us would tell you that we are nurses because we feel called to nurse. The pressures of taking care of patients and their needs 12 hours a day are great. Anyone who enters nursing for anything less than a calling to do so pays a huge price in burn out and personal disappointment.

Our hospital has an active and proactive program for prevention of falls, infections and pressure-ulcer development. There is more to this picture, many times, than simply stating that the hospital staff — which denotes MDs and nurses most of the time — was negligent or didn't care about the patient's welfare.

I can't help wondering if anyone has undertaken research into the number of nursing home and long-term facility patients who fall, become infected because of IV lines or develop pressure ulcers. Many of our admissions in the ICU come directly from such facilities, and many of them arrive with open wounds and sepsis related to IV lines and/or urinary bladder catheters.

If nothing else comes of this article of yours, at least it will generate a ton more of paperwork that will pull the nurses away from the patient's bedside all the more. — Name withheld

About five years ago, my 61-year-old boyfriend and companion of 18 years was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver and saw the same doctor regularly for checkups. His doctor never prescribed any medication and told my boyfriend that only a portion of his liver had the cirrhosis and, because of his healthy lifestyle, it would not get any worse over time.

A few months ago, my boyfriend's yearly ultrasound showed a small gallstone. Around the end of May, he had some upper-gastric discomfort, not excruciating pain, which felt more like indigestion. After three or four days of waiting to get in to see his doctor, my boyfriend casually mentioned the gallstone findings. The doctor pushed on his stomach, which caused some pain, and immediately said that he should go in for a simple, laparoscopic, outpatient gall bladder removal. He was referred to a surgeon, who scheduled the surgery for June 2.

We showed up at the scheduled time of 5:45 a.m., and he was taken into the surgery waiting room at around 10 a.m. I was with him. While waiting to be wheeled into surgery, I mentioned to the anesthesiologist and the surgeon that his blood pressure was very high (200/100) and that he did not have a history of high blood pressure. They were both somewhat flippant and gave him something to bring down the pressure. However, as he was wheeled into surgery, his blood pressure was at the same high levels.

The surgery lasted about an hour, and I was called to pick him up around 1 p.m. (about 11/2 hours after surgery). He was woozy, but went to bed and slept. Around 11 p.m., he started to throw up, and I called 911. While they were there, he threw up and they attributed that to the anesthetic. He was not taken to the hospital. About an hour later, he went into the bathroom and filled the toilet with blood. I immediately called 911 again and he was taken to (an) emergency room.

Over the next few days, he went from the ER to a regular room, then to CMU and then, upon "bleeding out," was intubated and put in ICU. He remained there for 12 days, receiving blood, platelets, kidney dialysis, and every other medication and diagnostic test imaginable. However, from Day One, I requested an MRI to locate the bleeding, but one was never done. In the beginning days, the doctors could not find the source of the bleeding, but then said it was a backup due to the liver being "dead" and not allowing the blood to flow through it, but instead "backing up." I stated that his liver was functioning upon arrival and asked what caused the liver to shock. I never received what appeared to be a valid response.

On his 12th day in the hospital — June 14th — the doctors told us that it was "time" to take him off life support because there was nothing else they could do for him and he would not make it. I had never given up hope that he would make it through somehow, but to our devastation, his body just couldn't come back. We did the only humane thing possible, but it was the most difficult decision his sons and I ever made.

Since his passing, I researched online and obtained some medical opinions. It appears that gall bladder removal should not be done if someone is diagnosed with cirrhosis. The same doctor that diagnosed him was the same one that advised him to have the surgery. There are many more issues on the subject, and it appears that this never should have been done without a lot of preoperative screening and taking other factors into consideration.

The tragedy does not end with his death. When his sons were very young, his ex-wife and mother of his three sons died at (an area hospital) after being involved in a slight car accident. They finally took an MRI when her condition worsened, and found that her intestines had been punctured. By that time it was too late to do anything but sew her back up. She was only 37 when she passed away. Then, almost five years ago, their 19-year old son became a quadriplegic as the result of an auto accident and passed away just after his 21st birthday. The two remaining sons had to go through all of that at a very young age and now had to helplessly watch their father have the same fate as their mother and brother. It's all too much to bear for them, myself, and my boyfriend's family and friends.

As a side note, my boyfriend came from Ireland to Las Vegas in 1972 as a drummer. He played with The Royal Irish Showband at the Stardust, Aladdin and Barbary Coast for many years. He was very well-known here and in his homeland of Ireland. At this time, none of us can come to grips with this tragedy that we feel could have been avoided if he had received proper medical analysis and treatment.

Thank you for your investigative reporting. For some of us, it comes a little too late, but hopefully will save the lives of others in the future.

P.S.: On the day that we were told he should be taken off life support, I went into his room and was trying to comfort him as I had done all along. I was touching his head, his feet, his hands and any place on his body that wasn't strung up with tubes and contraptions.

The nurse the day before casually mentioned that my boyfriend had an infection and they were sending the culture to the lab. After being in his room this (the next) morning, I asked if the results had come back. The nurse pulled it up in the computer and said that he had MRSA. I was shocked, appalled and quite upset. I said, "MRSA? And there are no precautions?" I asked when they received the results, and she said the night before. I could not believe that they did not immediately quarantine him that night upon receiving the results and had done nothing until I went ballistic. They then put up the sign and made everyone wear gowns, gloves and surgical masks.

This is just another sign of incompetence and lack of concern for not only all of the patients in the hospital, but their visitors as well.

Thank you again for all of your hard work and dedication to this issue — Mary

In January 2000, I was to undergo what should have been a "routine" decompression procedure at (a local hospital). I was diagnosed with an Arnold Chiari malformation in October 1999. I scheduled the surgery for the morning of Jan. 3, as I wanted to make sure all the Y2K bugs were worked out.

A Chiari malformation is a type of brain malformation. There is a downward displacement of the cerebellar tonsils causing them to extend into the foramen magnum, blocking the flow of cerebrospinal fluid. My diagnosis was a Type 1 with syringomyelia, a cyst that forms inside the spine.

I had been having problems with headaches, coordination, fatigue and swallowing, among other symptoms for nearly a year. After finally receiving an MRI, I was diagnosed and referred to the good folks at (a neurosurgical facility). We met with the surgeon, and the procedure was scheduled. Normally one would look for a second opinion, but as I said, I was having some real problems and needed immediate help. At this point, even something as simple as swallowing soup had become difficult.

(A surgeon) performed the decompression procedure. I spent several days in ICU, and then after a couple of days in a regular room I was sent home. That is when the problems started, and I went through three subsequent "corrective" surgeries with (this surgeon), and also developed meningitis because of a reaction to the adhesive they used to hold the material to the area where the piece of skull was removed. During one of my four trips to the emergency room, I spent 36 hours lying in a (hospital) hallway because of a lack of beds.

During another hospital stay, a leak developed because of a tear in the material that was used. I lay there one night in a pool of spinal fluid, and all the nurses could do was change my pillow. The doctor came in the next morning and put more sutures in to tighten up the incision, without even the use of a general anesthetic. After that, it was decided they would try placing a shunt in my spine to redirect the fluid into my abdomen. That only resulted in both high- and low-pressure headaches, and only later did we find out that, when it was put in, the shunt was installed with a kink in it.

This did nothing for the leak itself. All it did was cause what is called a pseudomeningocele to form. After all of this, I was left with a "pillow" of spinal fluid on the back of my head. I saw one of (the surgeon's) colleagues during one visit whose suggestion was to raise my headboard so during the night the fluid would drain.

The last time I saw (the surgeon) was most memorable. I walked in and he said, "Everything looks good." I then turned to show him the lump of fluid on the back of my head to which he replied, "Well, I don't know what else to do for you." We walked out and never looked back.

We tried looking for help elsewhere. Because I had had the decompression done, most places looked at me as "damaged goods." Most places we called were concentrating on people with new diagnoses. In August 2000, my wife was fortunate enough to find a doctor at (an out-of-state college) who although was not seeing new patients, agreed to see me. My wife and I were married in February 2001, and spent our two-week honeymoon in the ICU at (this school's medial center) in March.

I went through another round of surgeries to completely redo everything that was done here. In total I have had 12 surgeries and procedures to try to correct what the Las Vegas doctors did to me; most recently, I had a neuro-stimulator implanted to try to alleviate the headaches that I have been left with. I have damage to my occipital nerve, which they think was a result of either being nicked during the initial surgery, or is a result of the pseudomeningocele being left untreated for so long.

The opinion of my (out-of-state) doctors is that (my surgeon) removed a much bigger piece of skull than he should have and that they used the wrong type of material to cover the opening. I have been left with a "dent" in the back of my head, and scars cover the right side. I have headaches that I will more than likely have for the rest of my life. Although I keep my head shaved, I am conscious of the way my head looks. I have several deep scars from the continuous reopening of the original incision and also scars from the corrective surgeries that were necessary. When I am out in public, I can feel the stares and hear the comments. Most of the time I don't pay attention, but if I am not having a good day because of the pain, those comments hurt.

We tried a few years ago to take legal action against the (neurosurgical facility); however, it is difficult finding a doctor willing to testify against another one in this town. That, compounded with the fact that (the surgeon) passed away shortly after, left me with few choices.

We were lucky to find some kind, compassionate, and knowledgeable (out-of-state) doctors who were willing to take on my case, but they can only do so much to repair the damage that has already been done. — Steve

I chose (a particular hospital) to deliver my baby because I had heard many good reviews and my OB delivered there as well. My water broke Tuesday, Dec. 1, and I was admitted with very mild contractions because of my water breaking and to monitor my labor.

The nursing staff advised me that if I wanted intermittent fetal monitoring, which I had discussed and gotten the OK from my doctor for, I would have to be awakened every 20 minutes and therefore would not be able to sleep. I agreed to the fetal monitor belt and around midnight I was awakened by the nursing staff and advised that there was a problem with the baby.

I asked them if I should get up and move around and that maybe that was why the monitor was showing there was a problem with the baby and they told me no, I needed to just lie there. They kept me lying down for an hour while they tried to get a "good strip" as they put it, and then after the hour they told me that my doctor had ordered medicine to slow my labor. My contractions were so mild that I was asleep, and I was only two centimeters dilated. After I was advised that if I didn't want to end up with a Caesarean I needed the medicine, we accepted, terrified.

The medicine, Terbutaline, stopped my labor completely, and when my doctor arrived the next morning and asked me how my contractions were, he was very surprised to hear that I had not had anymore all night nor the next morning. They started me on antibiotics the next morning, and then at 6 p.m. after failing to get my labor going naturally again, they started Pitocin. I had been trying for a natural, drug-free labor and delivery and obviously this was now no longer the case.

The next morning, I was doing great and my labor was progressing perfectly without the Pitocin at that point. I asked to labor in the warm water of the shower, and once I was in the bathroom with my husband, the shower drain began overflowing. I was focused on the prospect of the hot water and I walked into the shower. As I turned around to get the water to hit my back, the muck and gunk that was spewing out of the drain caused me to slip and fall and hit my lower back against the metal safety railing in the shower and hit the floor.

The nursing staff didn't even flinch or say anything and my mother and our doula had to come in and help my husband get me up off the floor. After they dried me off and got me back in bed, I had my first contraction after the fall. The pain that shot through my back and neck was so severe it brought me to tears. I tried to tolerate my contractions and this new severe pain for two more hours, and finally I requested an epidural at around 11 a.m. After the epidural, my medical records show that I was fully dilated at noon, but I was not allowed to start pushing until 5 p.m. After pushing for two hours at that time with very little efficacy because my back was so inflamed, the baby's heart rate was dropping severely and therefore we opted for an emergency Caesarean delivery. I wish this was the end of the story, but it isn't.

After three days in the hospital I was ready to be discharged, but my son's temperature was elevated to 100 degrees. When the nursing staff called our pediatrician, she didn't want to come to the hospital on a Sunday and therefore transferred his care to the neonatal intensive-care unit without discussing it with us. He had been double wrapped and with a hat and a relative of mine had turned the thermostat to 86 degrees in the room and we were all boiling up, but newborns cannot regulate their body temperature all that well and his went up a little.

As we begged them to take his temperature again because after unwrapping him he seemed to be fine, the neonatologist sauntered in and basically scared us half to death by saying that our son might die. After sufficiently scaring us and threatening us that the order was in and there was nothing more to do but take him from us, we tearfully agreed to the transfer.

As they wheeled our son into the NICU and took his temperature as soon as he got in, it was 98.6 degrees, perfectly normal. They kept our son in their NICU for three days and not once more did his temperature go up nor did he have any other symptoms that would lead anyone to be concerned about any illnesses that they threw at us to scare us. They poked and stuck our newborn these entire three days and while I was breast-feeding, there were times they wouldn't wait for me to get there to feed him and just gave him a bottle of formula.

Finally the day came to take him home and my baby has not had one problem and they found nothing wrong with him. He has barely had a sniffle and has never had any other problems and is a big, healthy, happy amazing child. There were also various procedures they performed without our consent including X-rays and they also gave him antibiotics that could have led to hearing problems without advising us.

I would never wish our experience on even my worst enemy, and I warn everyone who is pregnant to stay away from (this hospital). My experience also has caused severe post-traumatic stress disorder, and I had to go through about three months of chiropractic care. We brought our experience to the attention of the heads of the nursing departments. And regarding the shower drain, we were advised that when the hospital was built they didn't put in adequate plumbing and sometimes the showers back up. A simple warning to me would have been enough and I would have stayed out of the damn shower. When we complained about the neonatologist they advised us that they would have a "talk" with him about his bedside manner.

We ended up with about $5,000 in medical bills even after our insurance paid, and I will go to my grave believing that they admitted my son to their NICU simply because we had private insurance. They could do whatever they wish to me, but what they did to my son for pure monetary gain was abhorrent and truly despicable. — Name withheld

I was admitted to [a local hospital] June 9 with pneumonia, pleurisy, a collapsed lung and a kidney infection. I was assigned to [a doctor], and the first day after being admitted, the doctor did not even introduce herself. She walked in, pulled the oxygen tube off my face, said nothing was wrong with me and kept yelling at me to stop breathing so hard. By the time she left I was hysterical. I kept pleading to the nurses and anyone else who came to my room to please help me get help from another doctor. They all said they would, but no one ever came. I saw this woman three times while in the hospital; I was there a total of five days.

At around 9:30 p.m. the fifth night, [the doctor] came into my room, again yelling at me that there was nothing wrong with me. I told her to leave my room; I did not want her as my doctor. She turned and looked at me and laughed, then asked if I had [another doctor at that hospital]. I told her, "No, but not from lack of trying." She laughed at me and said, "Baby, I am all you got, and you will now be discharged." I was in worse shape than when I got there to the emergency room. I was discharged without an exiting X-ray. I was totally delusional as to what was going on. I also ended up back in another hospital two days later.

The only reason for [the first doctor] to discharge me in the middle of the night was because her precious ego had been dented by someone who was not going to let someone like her treat them so badly. I feel sorry for anyone who has to be seen at — and especially be assigned to [this doctor] — at [that hospital].

My ex-husband and I [later] had a meeting with the hospital house administrator. She promised us she would speak to [this doctor]'s official supervising doctor and have him call us. We never heard a word. [The administrator] also assured us it was against hospital policy to have a hospital doctor give out prescriptions already being provided by a primary caretaker. [The doctor had] sent me home with a month's supply of the same medications that my pain doctor already was prescribing. I still have all her prescription sheets and am forwarding them on to [the Nevada Medial Association]. This was a horrible abuse by a doctor of prescribing narcotics, especially without giving any instructions with them. This was the worst experience of my life. I guess compassionate medicine no longer exists. — Sandi

In 2004, I had an emergency Cesarean section at [a local hospital]. To say that it was a nightmare would be an understatement.

Even after telling the nurse who put my IV in my hand that it was not in correctly, she rolled her eyes and left the room. It swelled to the size of a grapefruit and was horribly painful. Another nurse gave me a medication that I was allergic to, and during my reaction — in which I thought I was going to die — said in a most sarcastic tone, "Oh, you're going to be a great mother!"

While nursing my newborn, they propped the door wide open as many families strolled by to visit other patients. When I asked that it be closed, they again treated me as if I were asking for something above normal care, and labeled me, "the princess." A man mopped my floor while I was nursing, and I could feel myself being splashed with the dirty water. My doctor advised staying for three days, but we left in two.

My C-section ended up so infected that I had to stop nursing my infant for two subsequent courses of antibiotics, and my milk never returned. When I had my second C-section in 2008, we decided to deliver at [a different local] hospital. After telling my nurse about my infection with the first C-section, she stated, "You wont be getting an infection here," and I didn't. The experience between [the two hospitals] was like night and day.

A few months ago, against better judgement, I had another surgery at [the original] hospital. My doctor assured me that it was a minor procedure and that I would be up and about in one day. While waiting for the procedure, I witnessed a member of the surgical staff use the bathroom I was just in before and after her visit, walk in with her scrubs and latex gloves on, urinate all over the toilet seat and a little on the floor beside, and walk out, still wearing the gloves. I was shocked. The next day, I had a mild fever and a tremendous sore throat. The day after that I was so sick with a sharp fever that it took two trips to the emergency room and several different courses of antibiotics to kill the infection. I never, ever, again [will visit the original hospital]. — Carrie

My 26-year-old son was a very sick young man, and I had no idea how ill he was until he called me in June 2000 and told me he had congestive heart failure. He did not qualify for a heart/lung transplant as he was a diabetic and overweight. He had been treated for strep throat at a [local hospital's] urgent-care facility, and the doctor gave him some medication. [The medicine] did not clear it up, so he called back and they sent in another prescription, which also did not clear up the problem. The doctor's office receptionist said to just let [the strep throat] run its course. So my son just went on.It got worse and finally he ended up with an infected heart.

On the eve of March 13, 2001 I got a call that he was in the hospital. So I spent the evening waiting to hear how he was. Finally after spending seven hours in the emergency room they put him in a room at [a local hospital]. He called us at 2:30 a.m. my time in Illinois. He said, "Mom", I love you, and I do not think I will live and see my (stepson) grow up." He was crying. I told him to just calm down and let them do what they had to do to make him feel good again.

I called him three times the next morning and they had done a bunch of tests on him. But in the meantime a nurse kept coming in and hounding him about insurance. That is all they worry about. Well about the fourth time he had had enough of that and her telling him they would have to transfer him to another place that he [checked] himself out of the hospital at about 1:30 in the afternoon. I, thinking he was still there, called and was told he had been released. So I called him at home and he talked to me briefly. About two hours later his wife called me and told me he was on the floor, not breathing. To make a long story short, had he gotten the proper care he would not have died that night and left behind a 25-year-old widow of seven months and a 6-year-old stepson. I have a broken heart one which will never heal. — LG

In July 2008, while at [a local] hospital, my father was diagnosed with a perforated ulcer at 7:30 p.m. He had fluid in his abdomen and was on morphine. The doctor on call was notified at 11:00 p.m. that night and determined it was not an emergency. [My father] finally had surgery the next morning at 10:30 a.m. The surgeon could not understand why he was not called the night before. Within 18 to 24 hours he had died of sepsis and two to three liters of fluid were found in his abdomen. He was in that emergency room with a hole in his intestine for 15 hours before anything was done about it, but by then it was too late.

In February of 2008, my 80-year-old mother fell after tripping over a phone cord. Before this fall, my mother was a very active and healthy person who always was ready to be on the go. My mother was taken to [a local hospital] where they found she had fractured her femur and needed surgery. After two days she was taken to the operating room where an orthopedic surgeon did the surgery. After her release from the hospital, she was sent to [a local] care center for therapy and then home, where a nurse and therapist were going to visit three times a week.

After weeks of this therapy, my mother's leg was not going to straighten out to its original position. [The orthopedic surgeon] told her it eventually would get better. After a few weeks, my mother went to her primary-care physician, who was concerned about the twisted leg and requested she see another orthopedic doctor and gave her a referral to [a local clinic] where she was told that the bone in her fracture was not positioned properly, that the appliance used in the surgery was too large for her leg, that she would need another surgery to fix the problems, and that after that there was no guarantee that she would be able to walk again because of muscle problems and her frail condition, which could be a problem. [Her primary-care physician] was very concerned that she might have go through the trauma of another surgery and did advise her that she may not make it through again.

Mom now weighs 90 pounds and is in a wheelchair all the time. She is very upset about the outcome of this whole ordeal since she has friends who have been through this and still are able to walk on their own after their surgeries. I feel that all of this could have been prevented if proper care was taken in the beginning, and now she has to pay by losing her quality of life. — Bonnie

A year ago I had knee replacement surgery at [a local hospital]. It never was right. Within six months, I basically wasn't recovering. When tests were done, they found I had an infection. Where did it come from? It had to be the hospital during the surgery or from the catheter. I had to have another surgery to have a spacer put in with antibiotics and was put on IVs for six weeks (twice a day). After another replacement surgery on the same leg [at the same hospital], I got another infection. This time the doctor had to cut further and shave off some of my bone because of the infection. They even were concerned I had C-diff on top of it. Thank God I didn't. All in all I ended up in the operation room five times, and the emergency room twice.

After a year, I still have not fully recovered, and have a long way to go. The doctor said it could take a year. I have spent a year in and out of the hospital because of the infections. I don't blame my doctor, but the hospital. This is twice I've gotten an infection from being in [this hospital]. I hope neither my husband or I have to go into any hospital here. It is scary what is going on. Go to a hospital and get sick and die. — Name Withheld

I was admitted to [a local hospital] in April to receive five treatments of plasmapheresis as treatment for CIDP. This treatment took 10 days to complete. I was discharged on a Monday morning, and by that afternoon I started to feel badly. All day Tuesday I continued to feel worse. On Wednesday I was very ill, and I returned to the hospital. I was admitted again, this time with a diagnosis of a staph infection.

I was immediately treated with massive doses of antibiotics and discharged seven days later to [a rehabilitation center] where I stayed for one month of physical therapy and other associated rehab work, all the while continuing to receive antibiotic treatments. I was told that I contacted this infection when a central line catheter was inserted in a vein in my neck to facilitate the plasmapheresis treatments. This infection paralyzed me from my waist to my feet. I have been in a wheelchair constantly except for the physical therapy to build up my strength and learn how to walk again. My bladder also was paralyzed and I had to have a Foley catheter inserted for six weeks.

I was discharged from [the rehab center] at the end of May to my home, where I remain in a wheelchair trying to build up my lower extremities and learn to walk with a walker. Progress is incredibly slow and painful. [The hospital] knew of the infection when I was discharged and as of this date I have not been contacted by [the hospital] to find out anything about the infection I received from them. To say this experience has changed our lives dramatically is a massive understatement! An infection control doctor told me I was 24 hours away from possibly not surviving this infection. This staph infection attacked the weakest part of my body, which was my lower extremities. If it attacked my heart I would have been in very serious trouble — Name withheld

I was a patient at [a local hospital] and came home with C. diff. The hospital knew I had it and did nothing about it. I also came home with bleeding open blisters on my rear end because of my lying on Chux pads. I told them I was allergic to Chux pads, and they did nothing about it. This was in November, and it took several months to recover. I had home health care and they took pictures — and so did I — of the blisters. I could tell you some horrible stores about [another hospital]. Things that should never happen to anyone and they happened to me there in May. — Norma

I was treated in [a local] emergency room June 26 for a fever and lower-back pain. They did an chest X-ray and some blood work, gave me some antibiotics, and sent me home. On June 28, the [hospital] called me and left a message that they needed more blood from me and asked if I would come back to the emergency room, saying they would fast-track me when I got there. I called and told them I was coming down for the blood work.

When I got there, they put me in a small room in the ER department and told me to change into a gown and to get into bed. I was told that I had an infection in my blood and that I had to stay in the hospital. I was put in isolation. On June 30, I was told that I had bacteria in my bloodstream that causes problems with my heart valves. I was told I needed a test called a TEE (transesophageal echogram), where you swallow a small camera that can show the valves of your heart as that is where the bacteria collects. When I asked about the bacteria they said that IV drug users get it from dirty needles or you possibly can get it from dental work and that we have this bacteria on our skin and in our digestive tract. I am 60 years old and am not an IV drug user. I had breast cancer in 1999, and have had several bouts of pneumonia, the last one being in January and February at [the same hospital]. My immune system is compromised as I also had chemotherapy following breast surgeries.

After 11 days I was sent home but was told that I needed six weeks of daily IV antibiotics. When I got home I looked up my diagnosis — Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococci — online. It is classified as a superbug, [and my online research showed] that you can receive this bacteria from healthcare workers and/or the hospitals. Hospitals are the only documented source of VRE in this country. I have 10 days of IV antibiotics left, and hopefully this will end my visits to the hospital. I will never enter a hospital again without this nightmare flashing in my mind. — Pamela

My husband died Jan. 8, 2008 in [a local hospital]. He was treated in the emergency room at the same hospital for pneumonia in October 2007. He developed C-diff and was in and out of hospitals and rehabs until he died.

A few years before, he had a mitral valve replacement in another hospital where he was evaluated by specialists to make sure there were no underlying problems or diseases. There were none, and he was cleared for the surgery. It was performed, and he returned to a normal life.

He was very strong for 83 and lived every moment of his life to the fullest until he contacted C-diff. As long as he was on one of the two medicines that treat the disease, he could maintain his life; once he finished a course of treatment, the paramedics were at the house transporting him. At one point, I had to pay for the medicine and a 10-day prescription was $1,200. I was stunned.

The day he died, I visited an Elder Attorney to try to find out how I could finance his care in the rehab and hospital. I soon realized that I could not do so, and his dying has left me without an income.

He was a retired American Airlines captain and we moved to Las Vegas in 1983. Even when you are in the middle of this nightmare and see what is happening daily, how people are treated, the daily "Yes. he had C-diff; no, he didn't," you keep believing it will get better. — Marsha

Twice I have been injured here in Nevada. The first time I was told I had a blood clot (deep vein thrombosis) and was hospitalized and put on a blood thinner. I changed doctors after finding out I never had a DVT.

The second time, I had an upper respiratory infection. I went to an ear-nose-throat doctor and was told I had cancer of the throat and needed immediate surgery for something growing very fast in my throat. I had an endoscopy and there was nothing to biopsy, but my vocal cords were paralyzed in the procedure so I couldn't talk. Then I was told I had multiple sclerosis or Lou Gehrig's Disease and to go home because I was going to die. So, I packed everything up and went back to my home state. There, the doctors laughed, repacked my vocal cord and told me to get back to work. I wasn't dying and did not have either disease.

I came back to Nevada and was told I couldn't sue (something to do with the 2006 law) by three attorneys. To this day, even for [a simple procedure] I go back to the Midwest. — BAL

In February my family doctor sent me to an interventional cardiologist. I was having chest pains and shortness of breath when I exerted myself (I'm 81 and have Type 2 diabetes). The cardiologist sent me for a CT angiogram exam. He called me that evening and told me the test results indicated I needed an angioplasty and we scheduled the procedure at [a local hospital].

On the scheduled day he started the procedure, examined me internally and stopped. He found several arterial blockages on my left cardiac artery ranging from 60 percent to 85 percent, and on my right cardiac cardiac artery he found several blockages, one of which was 100 percent blocked. He stopped the procedure, closed my femoral artery, told my wife I was in need of at least a triple — and possibly a quadruple — bypass, and set up an appointment with his cardiothorasic surgeon.

I wanted a second opinion and went a cardiothorasic surgeon at another local hospital. He reviewed the data and told me he recommended bypass surgery. I wanted to get another opinion at [a California hospital]. He then told me all they want to do was stenting. I made an appointment at [the California hospital] with one of their top cardiologists on March 5. After he reviewed my data, he consulted with several other cardiologists and they concluded that I did not need bypass surgery and that they could effectively open my arteries with drug-eluding stents. My left coronary artery was done March 9 with three stents, and my right coronary artery was done May 6 with four stents. I was discharged from the hospital the day following each procedure.

I am fine today as long as I take my meds and follow my doctor's advice. I've lost more than 40 pounds and am working on losing another 25. Had I followed the local doctors' advice and not sought other opinions, I might not have survived or might have been a semi-invalid for at least a year. The cost of both my procedures, which Medicare paid, was well under $30,000, compared to 10 to 12 times as much for the bypass surgery, hospitalization and after-treatment. I advise my friends the best hospital care in Las Vegas, starts at McCarran Airport. — Jerry

The night of Tuesday, April 13 my father became ill at home, complaining of pain in his lower right chest, just below the rib cage. I suspected he had a gall-bladder problem. So he drove himself to [a local hospital] and waited an hour while in severe pain. When he finally saw a nurse in the ER, the nurse and the ER doctors felt he was having a heart attack. The nurse made him chew an aspirin and wear a nitroglycerin patch.

Later, the nurse asked him how he was feeling, and he said he still was in severe pain. ECGs were done, and there were no real signs of a heart attack, just one of the waves was a little off. My father asked if it could be because he was in severe pain, but he didn't get a straight answer. He was admitted into the hospital, but it wasn't until Saturday that they suspected a gall-bladder problem. Monday he went into surgery to remove his gall bladder, and by then the organ had turned gangrenous and peritonitis had set in.

He ended up staying in the hospital for two weeks, being pumped with very strong antibiotics and suffering a partially collapsed lung. When I would question the nurses about how he was doing, they would give me double talk. After about the fifth day my father wanted to go home, but the hospital was trying every reason not to let him go. He told the hospital he was leaving Saturday.

It took him about a month and a half at home to recover. Gall bladder removal usually is a three-day or in-and-out procedure, and usually you're diagnosed the same day. Why was [the hospital] so hellbent on proving that my father was having a heart attack? They made a simple problem severely worse and they would not listen to him, so his obstructed gall bladder was allowed to fester for five days. If it had ruptured, it could have killed him. Because of this, I have no trust or faith in any Las Vegas hospitals. — Stephen

I was in [a local hospital] for a routine surgery to replace a neurostimulator. I was supposed to be out of work for a week. I ended up having six surgeries in 12 weeks because I somehow contracted an infection. It was not MRSA; it was another superbug that requires not one, but two rounds of IV-infused antibiotics and home health care. I had multiple visits to the doctor's office as well as the ER because of bleeding.

The neurosurgeon couldn't understand why after the first two surgeries I did not want him to touch me again, and I demanded a second opinion. He wanted me to see one of his partners! I went to a different neurosurgeon who told me he thought I had MRSA. The first surgeon never mentioned MRSA. All he said is that I could die from it if I didn't take care of it right away. The third surgery by the second neurosurgeon was probably the worse one for me. He opened up my neck and the infection just poured out. He had to take muscle out of my back, and in his words he had to go rather deep to clean out my back. For a long time I felt that I had a knife sticking in my back, and I still have days like that.

Now, a year later, I still am extremely tired and am trying to build up muscle, strength and endurance that was all lost. I still have issues with my stomach, and there are days I need to be real close to a restroom. There were times I wished I would have died so I didn't have to deal with being so sick. All because somewhere down the line something in the first OR was not sterile! — Judy

My mom had cirrhosis and autoimmune hepatitis and was taking Prednisone. In May she was hospitalized in [a local hospital], and after two weeks she went to the emergency room because of diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and abdominal pain. That was June 2. I went to the hospital to visit her and I saw she was diagnosed with sepsis. I asked an hospital employee about it, and she told me it was an infection on my mom's stomach, and when I talked to the doctor I was told that my mom was OK for discharge that day. But the liver doctor told me that she would need a liver transplant because it will fail. They did not tell me that her infection made her liver worse. At that time, the hospital was trying to arrange a possible transfer to [an out-of-state hospital] with their ambulance, but they were having to negotiate with [the other hospital]. Since my mom was on Medicare and Medicaid only, they said that she was denied financially. The doctor said she was OK to commute to the [out-of-state] hospital for a liver-transplant evaluation, and the GI doctor never told me how far she was from death. They also never really told us that sepsis is a dangerous infection. Since they told us she was OK, we believed that the infection already had cleared up. She was sent home without antibiotics.

On June 8, we were scheduled to go to the GI doctor to get the paperwork for referral to the [out-of-state] hospital, but since my mom was suffering abdominal pains, vomiting and nausea again again and was very weak, we rushed her to the [same local] hospital's emergency room. When we got there I asked the receptionist for a wheelchair, and she told me that she didn't know if there were any around and didn't even bother to look for one, so my husband carried my mom from the car to the ER. The only time we got the wheelchair was when the nurse called my mom and she told them that she could not walk.

While there, they took blood tests, urine tests and X-rays. Before 5 p.m. my mom was injected with morphine, I think twice. I left because my brother already was at the hospital, and after a few hours the nurse called me at home. I wasn't able to answer right away, but a couple of minutes later I noticed a voicemail from the hospital. I called the nurse back and she told me that my mom would have a CT scan for her stomach. At first she told me that my mom wouldn't wake up, and when I asked if she had woken up yet, the nurse told me that my mom was OK. After a couple more minutes, my brother called told me that our mom had a cardiac arrest and that hospital employees were resuscitating her.

When I finally got to the hospital, my mom already was in a coma and in the ICU. After a couple of hours, the doctor came out and told us that her blood pressure had gone down and that she was bleeding inside. The following day, I talked to a hospital employee who told me my mother had suffered septic shock and that her liver and heart would fail and she would die. We waited a couple of hours and my mom died in the afternoon. From the medical records that I gathered from the hospital, the blood culture of my mother revealed that Klebsiella pneumoniae in her blood had caused the sepsis. I read some articles about the bacteria, and it often is a hospital-acquired infection. From what I've read online, Klebsiella pneumoniae is to be treated for 14 days by IV. My mom wasn't in the hospital for even five days and was sent home without medication. I feel so upset that the hospital will not give you complete details on everything so you have to rely on only what they say. — Name withheld

In 2006 I was pregnant with my daughter, and when I went into labor on my due date, I went to [a local hospital]. I arrived around noon and was admitted because I was in labor. The next five days were the worst of my life.

I wasn't dilated fast enough (this was three hours after admission) so they put me on Pitocin around 4 p.m. I was at 10 cm at 8:30 p.m., but there was no doctor to perform the delivery. My OB was at the airport and I had to wait until his replacement came, which was 10-15 minutes later. Every time I had a contraction I had to hold my breath. When the OB came in, I pushed for a few minutes and my daughter was born. She had inhaled amniotic fluid, and I remember when I heard her breathing that it didn't sound right. She was rushed off to the NICU and placed in the highest level. I was placed in a postpartum room, which made the night horrible because they placed me next to a woman who had her baby with her. All night I heard her baby cry, which bothered me worse because my child was in the NICU.

The next day I woke up and went to the nursery to see my daughter, and the nurse gave me a report on the wrong baby. The hospital failed to tell me they had moved my child. She was stable the next day, which was a Monday. They said her infection level went up, which I felt was normal, especially after the hepatitis B vaccine. I also have GBS, but so far she had tested negative for it. She had cracked feet, and I asked if I could put lotion on them, but I was told no.

Tuesday I went to see my daughter at night, and I asked the nurse about her, but she didn't want to check my daughter's chart for me. They would feed the babies every three hours, so if they missed a feeding they'd have to wait another three hours. My daughter was hungry between feedings, so I asked if I could feed her and was told no.

So, Wednesday I decided I wanted to take my daughter out, against medical advice, because at this point they were telling me that she was failing to thrive, and the NICU specialist told me he had a feeling something was wrong. I told him that I saw no reason to keep her there, and he said she wasn't thriving. I said that wasn't true and that she was hungry between feedings and I wasn't allowed to feed her. He said — and I swear this — if she ate too much her stomach would explode. They told me they would call Child Protection Services if I took her. A nurse told me a cop would come and make sure my daughter stayed. I was so upset that I left.

That Thursday I went to the hospital to take my daughter. I wanted a second opinion, so the NICU doctor called the pediatrician. I forgot what he said, but I made a deal with the NICU doctor that if my daughter could sustain without a saline IV and ate what he wanted, that he would release her. So the hospital took my daughter's IV out and put her in a room with my husband and myself. My husband and I stayed up all night. She ate what the doctor wanted, but was short on one feeding.

The next day the hospital tests my daughter's hearing because she's being released. The NICU doctor calls me and tells me he's not going to release her. I told him she nailed all the feedings but one, and I asked if we could do a home nurse. He said he'd get back to me. He called back and said no home nurse would take our insurance. I started to yell at him and told him to release my daughter or I was going to call a lawyer. I told him he wanted my daughter in there for his Rolls Royce.

I also was told that if I left against medical advice that my insurance wouldn't pay for the hospital stay. So I had to sign paperwork that I was leaving the hospital against medical advice and that I could never go back to that hospital again. As we were packing up, our nurse told us that our insurance would cover the stay and that the doctors always told the patients that insurance wouldn't cover it so that parents are forced to leave their children at the hospital. The nurse said she was tired of watching doctors and nurses lie to parents. I later found out that my husband's insurance would have covered the home nurse, so that had been yet another lie by the hospital.

That Monday I got a visit from CPS and they decided to weigh my daughter for the next six weeks. I took her to a pediatrician and she was healthy. My daughter now is a healthy 4-year-old, but I know in my heart that if I would have left her in the hospital she might not be here today. To this day I still have a hard time trusting doctors because of this. — Vanessa

My daughter was 17 years old with a genetic disorder called Friedreich's Ataxia. She went into cardiac arrest last Halloween in our home. We worked on her until the paramedics arrived, and then they worked on her. She was not responding. After about 12 minutes, the first responders revived her en route to the closest hospital. The doctors there gave her a once-over but admitted she needed to be in a specialty hospital. My husband rode with her to the hospital and called me in elation when she woke up and gave him a kiss. The ambulance driver talked to her and asked her forgiveness for it being so cold outside. They asked my husband where should she be taken, and he made the dire mistake of saying [a different local hospital].

She got there and was still awake. We all were so excited because the entire family prayed and prayed from here to Chicago with an outpouring and a collective exhale when she woke up. She got to [the second hospital], and as my husband was off filling out paperwork, my daughter was kicking her feet. (This is the way that she communicated because she couldn't talk). Instead of talking with my husband, the doctors there pumped her full of the same medication that was given to Michael Jackson until she lost consciousness.

The next day she still was unresponsive. We asked the doctors why, and they said she had sepsis. Then they said she had other issues. We asked what they gave her to knock her out that long, and they said that she was exhibiting seizure "activity" so they gave that to her. I asked what activity it was as we were elated that she was moving at all, and they said "she kicked." They gave my daughter a medicine that puts people in a coma because "she kicked"? We explained that was her way of getting your attention. Perhaps she was cold or hungry or just wanted her mom and dad. Instead they took it as combative behavior, I suppose, and drugged her!

Hurriedly they took her off this medication. Then they started saying that she still wasn't responding within minutes of the removal of the medicine and that we should just give up. I began questioning who was responsible for giving her this medication, because perhaps had they not, she still would be awake. I wanted to make formal complaints. Because I work at a law firm I got a lot of my attorney friends involved and asking questions. I wanted to make a complaint against the doctor, and when I attempted to speak with someone in the "Patient Advocate" department to ask that another doctor be assigned to my daughter, I was told "No!" Then things went awry.

Three days after my complaint, detectives and Child Protection Services were summoned to my daughter's hospital room and our home at late-night hours. I was told that the hospital reported us and that an investigation was opening. Our entire family was questioned and humiliated for two days. We were constantly encouraged by the hospital to stop my daughter's ventilator and told that there was nothing else that could be done. I begged them to remove her from the hospital and transfer her to [another hospital] where I had researched a machine specifically for children who had lost brain function because of cardiac arrest. I spoke with the doctor in that department at [the other hospital], and I was going to pay for the transport. Everything was a go until [that hospital] talked with [the one my daughter was in]. Then it all stalled.

So there we were, being "investigated." We had to pee in a cup and have our hair cut out of our head in many sections. Meanwhile, my daughter was slipping away and the real reason was being clouded by horrible unfounded accusations and an attempt to remove the cloud from over their heads.

About two days after that, they declared my daughter brain dead and she passed away.

So if you can see what my story is saying its this — [the hospital] was like a bunch of street thugs. If you go against any one of them (and this sort of thing has happened to us in the past with this hospital) then they retaliate, plain and simple. Nothing ever came of this "investigation," but the pain, suffering and humiliation and loss of our daughter never will be vindicated.

They have no ethics, no decent level of care and no accountability whatsoever. To say that the hospital that you will be going to is at the airport is the best decision for many. — Iris

In October I was having great difficulty and was experiencing incredible pain during bowel movement. I went to a clinic that almost immediately sent me to [a local hospital]. There I endured several hours of testing. In the end I was informed there was a blockage in my colon and that it appeared to be a tumor. They were suggesting chemo and radiation treatments.

I spent a few days in depression and made the choice not to pursue treatment. The pain was intolerable, so I went for a follow-up exam with a doctor that was on my referral list. I really just was looking to get some meds for the pain. This doctor reviewed all of the tests and determined that I had swallowed a loose filling in my sleep that had lodged in my bowel and had gotten infected. It was being bombarded by white blood cells, which is why I had such elevated levels.

He prescribed some heavy-duty antibiotics and pain meds. Within about two weeks I was in much better shape and now am living happily ever after, but during the time I was in my depression about having so-called colon cancer, I lost my job and almost committed suicide. — Andrew

In 1996, my mother, who was visiting from the Midwest, suffered heart failure during the flight to Las Vegas. Once here she underwent a quadruple bypass which should have been a fairly easy recovery. On the third day after surgery, she called me after complaining to hospital staff multiple times of pain in her left leg. As is normal after surgery, she had been fitted with stockings meant to prevent blood clots. The only problem was that the staff never once took off the stocking or checked on the cause of the pain.

On the fourth day, when she should have been being released, she was sent to ortho floor because all of the nerves in her left leg had died because of a lack of circulation. My mother, who was in her 60s and very active, spent the next nine years unable to walk under her own power. Then, in 2005, she died after experiencing a blood clot after a flight from the West Coast to Iowa. While she had been in the process of suing the [Clark County] doctor and hospital since her procedure, they kept delaying the process and she never was compensated in any way for her pain and disability caused directly by that doctor and hospital staff. — Deborah

After undergoing total knee replacement (my fourth surgery total and second in Las Vegas), I began getting sores on my skin. I spent the next 13 years in misery, often with painful lesions. I finally discovered that my body was filled with a staph infection, obviously obtained while in the hospital here.

Not only is this now unable to be contained, but I need more operations and have been putting them off because of fear of even worse diseases. On a side note, the day after surgery, two nurses got into a literal fistfight in my room, with one falling into my bed, and not one thing ever was done to these two so-called health-care "professionals." — Deborah

In October 2008, my 78-year-old mother fell and broke her hip. She was operated on at [a local hospital]. Her surgery was successful, and within 12 hours she was up and walking. The one thing that changed was that before surgery she was talking, and after she came out of surgery she never spoke again.

She was sent to [a local rehab facility] for therapy. This is the place that destroyed her. She never was given any therapy, and she was kept in bed and isolated. When I saw how she was being treated I tried to bring her home, but I found out that I couldn't because I didn't have power of attorney and she was a ward of the state. She would be lying flat down in bed and her food tray was at the foot of her bed where she couldn't reach it. She went without many meals. One day I pulled her covers down down and she was lying in a pool of urine and feces as they hadn't changed her in days. While there, she twice fell because she wanted to use the bathroom, but they wouldn't let her and put a diaper on her and removed the walker from her room, so she fell while attempting to go to the bathroom.

I got a call that she had fallen, and when I got there her glasses were broken and her head had been cut and was bloody, and her stitches from the hip surgery had ripped open, but the facility employees said she was fine. The day I took my mother out I stood by the door as an aide was attending to her, and I saw the aide yell at and slap my mother. After that, they couldn't stop me from getting her out.

When I got her home and bathed her I was horrified to see what had developed. Never in my life had I seen such a bad case of bedsores — wounds so open you could see the bone. Just horrible. My mother never walked again, never spoke again. She just deteriorated, which could have been avoided completely had she been taken care of properly. She passed away on Sept. 5, 2009. — Donna

I am one of the statistics. I had two minor chest pains on March 14. I didn't think it was a big deal, but later in the day, after having lunch with a friend and taking her to the airport, I decided to go to [an] emergency [room] in Las Vegas to have it checked out.

Tests performed showed I had a blocked artery and would need angioplasty. The surgery was planned for Tuesday morning; however, partly because of an error on my part (I forgot to proclaim when I was admitted that I have allergic reactions to iodine) and partly because of an error on the part of the desk nurses on duty who failed to read the second questionnaire, which I filled out after being put in a room. When the surgeon's staff member came to get me for surgery and I reminded her I had written on the second set of questions that I had the reaction to iodine (which is most often used in surgery), the only comment from the desk nurse was "Oh, I did not read that". So, I was forced to wait another day.

On Wednesday, March 17, a stent was inserted into one of my arteries. I was sent home the next evening. On Sunday, March 21, my grandson stopped by to see how I was doing, and I said I had severe pains in my right thigh and thought it a good idea if he would take me to [the same emergency room]. I was found to have numerous blood clots in my right thigh, just below the area where the tube was inserted into my groin and in an artery where the surgeon would insert the stent that would be installed near my heart.

The thigh continued to be very painful. I was informed that I must stay in the hospital and that the surgeon who performed the angioplasty would see me Monday morning. He came to see me late in the day. He never explained to me what occurred to cause the clots. I had to ask another doctor. I was informed that when the surgeon cut into my groin, he not only cut into the artery but also into a vein, which, I was told, was the cause for the clots. Ultrasound was used to "break up" the clots, and I was sent home on Tuesday, March 23. The healing process was extremely painful and caused greater discomfort than the installation of the stent. I saw the surgeon in his office March 25. Nothing much was said about the clots or the ultrasound except that it would take a while for them to stop hurting and that the pain would work down my leg until the clots and pain would dissipate. That took nearly two weeks to happen. To this day, I still have pain under and just above my right knee. There is swelling above my right ankle that is tender to touch.

I have been told by nurses and others that I should seek compensation for the time I spent in the hospital and the charges incurred. It cost me another hospital stay and doctor charges. I am beginning to wonder if that is true. It also was disconcerting for me. I do know that if I need to have further treatment for my heart I would not feel comfortable being this surgeon's patient. Besides all that, his office staff leaves a lot to be desired. They are rude and inattentive to a patient's needs, and his office always is packed with patients. I had two follow-ups with him after surgery, both unsatisfactory for me. — Name withheld