On Tuesday, May 2, 2006, my fifteen-year-old brother was life-flighted from Venango County to UPMC: Presbyterian hospital from an accident in his wood-shop class. His left index finger was severed through the second knuckle when a piece of wood jerked, sending his left hand into a table saw. I received a call at 2:45 PM from my mother - whom was frantic - to hurry over there as quickly as I could to be at his side. After the bus-ride, which put me there around 3:15, it was about a half-hour wait for them to get him settled in enough for me to join him, which was understandable.
A pair of doctors - one of whom whose name I do not recall, but the other was Dr. Kaufmann - came and explained to me what had happened. They told me that they were trying to come up with a game plan of dealing with my brother's surgery. It turned out that where it had been severed - through the second knuckle - was a place which they could not really attach it and have it be functioning. I told them that I was the wrong person to ask; my mother was en route. They said alright, and that they would wait for her to come and talk to my younger brother about what should be done.
My mother arrived at 5:20 PM, and promptly alerted the ER of her presence and that she wanted my brother taken care of as quickly as possible. In relatively short order, Dr. Kaufmann and his assisting physician were explaining the options, and my mother and brother decided that they should simply take what remained of his finger. Dr. Kaufmann informed us that the surgery would take place in a couple hours - as soon as there was an open OR. This in itself was reasonable.
What followed, however, was anything but.
Somehow, my younger brother fell through the cracks. Three hours passed... and nothing. I asked the male nurse that had taken over my brother's care in the ER for an idea of what was going on. What he showed me made me see red; he brought up the computer screen and showed me the basic set-up; patient name, room assignment query, and care query. Beside my brother's name, there was a blank in both columns. He said he would do what he could, and I believe he did. However, the abomination that is UPMC's care did not end there.
At around 9:30 PM, he was moved out of the ER room he was in... and into the hall. Yes, the hall. A passing nurse covered him in blankets the best she could, and got a chair for myself. It wasn't until we were in the hall - and we were there for forty minutes - that Dr. Kline even approached us about what was supposed to be going on. The thing is, I wonder if his attention had been drawn to us because the male nurse had approached us and was still standing there profusely apologizing for the debacle we had been through. Somehow, they had forgotten to do the paperwork for my younger brother to go any further towards the surgery he needed... four hours prior. From there, I thought things would move smoothly. A new estimated time for his operation was set for midnight, and he was moved into a room in Montefiore.
From there, things were still moving at a far slower speed than they should have... but by then, I was used to the idea of UPMC's incompetence. My brother's operation kept getting pre-empted; it was nearly 2:00 AM by the time they even took him down for surgery. I will give credit where it it due; the surgery itself went exactly as planned, and he was discharged in good spirits - and left hand tightly bound - the next day.
Now, for the points that I wish to bring to the attention of those reading this; first of all, this should not have occurred. My brother's injury, although unfortunate, should have been dealt with as swiftly as possible, especially considering the circumstances in which he was brought into the ER. While I can understand him being preempted from the OR at first by transplants and worse traumas, there must be a point in which that ceases... before two in the morning. Since the initial injury occurred around 12:30 in the afternoon - and his recovered digit would only be viable for sixteen hours - this means that had the finger been able to be re-attached, they came mighty close to not being able to use anything from it in any viable means.
His being forgotten is absolutely inexcusable; if there is not a system in place to prevent this from occurring, then there should be. Especially when we were forced out into the hall instead of having the dignity of a room, I had to sit there and do my best to put on a brave face while my brother cried in agony when, in reality, I wanted to stride out into that barely-active hallway and explode. Furthermore, the fact that it took us being out in the hallway - and thus actually visible - to move things forward is an outrage. This is as unprofessional as it can get, especially when it comes to the health of a teenaged boy.
In closing, consider the following; this is the same hospital that prides itself on being one of the best, being named one out of sixteen hospitals that made the Honor Roll in USAToday for the year 2006. Had incidents like this been made public, I doubt they would have received such an accolade. In fact, since I intend on sending a copy of this letter to them, I can reasonably see it being revoked. I would also like to state that I do appreciate the efforts of those whom worked to make our time there as pleasant as possible, despite the wrongdoings leveled at my family.
TL:DR - My younger brother cuts his finger off, and receives bad medical treatment.