The Hospital Did Not Know It Had Transferred a Patient to the Coronavirus Unit

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When a patient of mine—who I will not name—began having trouble breathing, I referred a friend in the respiratory department to our emergency department.

My friend had just received a package on Friday. On Monday morning, he reported that his wife had been at work and his son and daughter were with him overnight as they had been for the last eight nights. They all had eaten dinner together and retired to bed at a reasonable hour.

My friend woke him up around midnight and found him collapsed on the floor in the living room. An emergency medical services (EMS) crew rushed him to the hospital where a team of doctors diagnosed him with COVID-19. According to his wife, the patient has been in quarantine since the second he woke from his nap.

My friend died that evening.

The next morning, I called the hospital to see if he had been transferred to the coronavirus unit. The answer was no.

This was a mistake. It was not the first time that this had happened. It happened multiple times. A doctor or nurse who answered the phone did not have the authority to transfer a patient to a different unit or facility. He did not have the authority to deny a patient access to a different unit or facility.

And the hospital did not even know it had done this.

I spoke with the hospital’s charge nurse manager who informed me that as a temporary “special duty” job the charge nurse has not been to the hospital before. She added that as a person with only a bachelor’s in nursing she was not fully qualified to be a charge nurse.

She claimed that while the hospital has a process in place to transfer patients from one unit or facility to another during a public health emergency, this process wasn’t in place for the coronavirus pandemic. She claimed that the hospital made a mistake, and she had no authority to transfer

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