My son died, and the hospital doesn’t care

After speaking with the chief medical officer of the hospital where my son died, I realize we will never receive a straight answer about the circumstances leading to his death.

It turns out the death of an approximately eight-day-old boy is one of the “untoward events” the officer must handle. I do hope this unfortunate death didn’t cause him too much additional work; I can’t even imagine what he must be going through.

My son apparently died of an infection. The hospital claims it is investigating, and the worst part is administrators apparently never planned to let us know they are investigating.

“Bacteria are everywhere,” one NICU doctor told me, who assured me the death of a newborn in the NICU is “not a usual occurrence.” Offering one possible source, he said, “Bacteria are on visitors.”

Interesting. If these external sources were to blame and pose that much danger, why does the NICU allow itself to be a revolving door of visitors? And, why does the staff do next to nothing to ensure visitors properly wash their hands before entering? And, why doesn’t the NICU require visitors to wear scrubs? And, if the doctor walks into the NICU in street clothes, might he have bacteria on his clothes?

Precisely when this inquiry started is hazy. And, when the results will be returned is even more unclear, though it could take a month and if actually released will no doubt be after the attorneys have a chance to review and scrub.

If it does take a month to investigate, that means hospital officials will spend more than three days investigating for every day my son lived. Yet, after speaking with high-ranking officials at the hospital, I have little confidence the investigation will be carried out in an aboveboard manner.

After admitting they have no concrete evidence or any results from this “investigation,” one doctor confirmed the hospital did nothing wrong and that no protocols need to change. As I told the hospital, “I know how the game is played.”

“You guys are going to do an investigation, and your risk management people or safety people — whatever you call them — and your attorneys are going to come back, and it’s never going to be your fault,” I told the chief medical officer in a call filled with awkward silences. “I work in public relations. I work in marketing. I’ve written these scripts a thousand times.”

Rather than showing compassion, the hospital circled the wagons.

“The absolute worst part that just kills me, that sucks is that my son is dead. He is dead. And, he is never coming back,” I told the hospital. “And, you guys are going to do a four-week investigation that I never would have known of because nobody from your hospital would have had not even the professional courtesy, just the common human courtesy to let us know.”

It’s pathetic. Even to a grieving father, the hospital obfuscates. They can’t put on hold for a moment their “we’re afraid of being sued” protocol to help a father understand why his son died.

“What you guys do is obvious closing the ranks and making sure everybody there is protected and making sure no blame is actually assigned, which means making sure nothing is ever changed.”

At least the chief medical officer had the decency to say, “I’m not going to disagree with you.”

I didn’t call asking for money. I didn’t call for somebody’s job. I asked for somebody to give a damn.

Is that too difficult?

About the author

Todd DeFeo

Todd DeFeo loves to travel anywhere, anytime, taking pictures and notes. An award-winning reporter, Todd revels in the experience and the fact that every place has a story to tell. He is owner of The DeFeo Groupe and also edits The Travel Trolley and Railfanning.org.