Fla. Man with Fractured Skull Waits Hours for Treatment in ED
Mar. 13—A man in the Tampa-area was forced to wait hours at a hospital for emergency surgery after suffering life-threatening conditions from a fractured skull, according to family and friends.
Donnie Smith was pitching at a softball game in Trinity, Fla., when a big drive hit him hard in the head, WFTS reports.
"Donnie went immediately to the ground," a teammate said to WFTS. "Blood was coming out of his nose."
A teammate took Smith to a local emergency room at about 7:45 p.m., and a CT scan revealed that he had a fractured skull and a brain bleed.
But doctors at the hospital could not perform surgery to relieve the pressure in his brain, and needed to sign a transfer order to send Smith to a trauma center to be with a team of surgeons, according to WFTS.
At around 9 p.m., a doctor signed a transfer order to a trauma center 13 miles away, but Smith and his sister still waited.
"There were ambulances sitting outside the door, and they wouldn't put him in it," Smith's sister said to WFTS.
Two hours after arriving to the ER, Smith's condition continued to worsen and he was given only an ice pack to hold on his head, Smith's sister told WFTS.
"He's going gray, sweating profusely, chills everywhere," she told WFTS.
By 10 p.m., Smith's heart rate dropped to under 40 beats a minute, and he was throwing up blood all over the room, Smith's sister said to WFTS.
The ER staff reportedly called for a helicopter, but it could not fly because of bad weather.
Smith was then rushed to another room and put to sleep, until he was finally transferred to the trauma center at about 11:30 p.m.—four hours after he got his injury, WFTS reports.
Family and friends said that Smith now suffers memory, speech and other problems, which they blame for the long delay at the hospital.
Smith's sister said a piece of skull about the size of a palm was removed from his head, and it will take two months until they can put it back in, WFTS reports.
WFTS says that Smith is out of the hospital but "his brain is still bleeding." His family has filed complaints with two state agencies.
An HCA spokesperson, who represents both hospitals, issued a statement to WFTS that read:
Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point is a strong advocate of improving access to trauma services, bringing a much needed program to Pasco County in 2010. While we can't discuss specific patient situations, there are a number of factors that come into play when transferring a patient from the scene of an accident or another hospital to a trauma center once the determination has been made that trauma services are needed. This includes identifying the nearest facility with expertise available to respond quickly, determining the most appropriate mode of transportation and stabilizing the patient for transport. All of these factors can change at any time and delay the transport process.