Hospital changes mind, gives teen heart transplant

Back on Aug. 13, we discussed a teenager from another state who needed a heart transplant due to a life-threatening condition. He went to the hospital to get on the transplant list, but doctors rejected him and refused to put him on the list. Readers may be relieved to learn that this case of possible medical negligence has ended with the patient getting a new heart after all.

The teen, 15, needed the transplant after complaining of chest pains that turned out to be due to an enlarged heart. But doctors at the hospital told the family that they would not perform a transplant due to the patient’s so-called history of “non-compliance.”

That term refers to patients whom doctors believe are unlikely to take their medication or show up for check-ups. Rejecting a transplant patient for non-compliance is rare, and the reasoning behind it can be murky. The teen’s parents said that they were told that he was rejected because of his grades and concerns that he was involved in criminal activity. He had an ankle bracelet on when he was admitted to the hospital. The bracelet later was described as having “nothing to do with jail.”

The case drew the attention of the patient’s state chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which began lobbying the hospital. That and nationwide media conference of the case apparently caused the hospital to change its mind. The teen underwent a transplant on Aug. 20.

Without knowing all of the thinking behind the initial rejection of the teenager, having a young person go home without providing him or her with life-saving care may appear to be medical malpractice from the outside. Though this case appears to have a happy ending, delaying care of serious health problems can lead to the condition growing worse, possibly even death.

Source: TIME, “Teen Denied Access to Transplant List Receives New Heart,” Alice Park, Aug. 22, 2013

Hospital Negligence


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