Saturday, December 10, 2005

Couple calls emergency room doctor's actions disrespectful

From the Newport News-Times:

Samaritan Pacific Communities Hospital policy indicates "the behavior of all individuals providing services on behalf of Samaritan Health Services" is based on a set of principles, the first one denoting that "patients, employees, medical staff members, and visitors deserve to be treated with dignity, respect for their rights, fairness, and courtesy."

A Newport couple believes an emergency room physician violated hospital policy and possibly state law by ignoring medical power of attorney papers during a medical crisis that sent one of them to the ER by ambulance. They also believe being a same-sex couple might have played a role.

In the early morning hours of November 30, Karen Dammann made an urgent 9-1-1 call on behalf of Meredith Savage, her partner of 10 years. When emergency medical personnel arrived, Meredith "was conscious, but unable to move or speak." The ambulance crew whisked her to the hospital's emergency room, with Karen not far behind.
Dammann expected ER personnel to allow her in the treatment area with Meredith, especially since her partner could not clearly communicate any special medical conditions or needs. Instead, Dammann said they - by order of the attending physician - repeatedly denied her access, allegedly because she wasn't "related" to the patient. They continued to bar Dammann's presence in the room after she went home and returned with medical power of attorney papers (what's known as an advanced directive) giving Dammann the legal right to make medical decisions for Meredith if she is incapacitated and unable to make or communicate those decisions herself.


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