LAWRENCEVILLE, GA (CBS46) - CBS46 News began investigating a hospital after a metro Atlanta woman with a life-threatening disease said she had to leave the emergency room and actually call paramedics to get the care she needed.
Christy Mitchell has a rare pulmonary disease that requires medicine be pumped in her body every two minutes to allow proper blood flow and oxygen to her lungs. On Friday, her pump malfunctioned, so she and her friend, Brannon Chappell, drove to the closest emergency room at Gwinnett Medical Center.
"I felt helpless," Mitchell said. "We even asked if we could call the PA from Emory that works with me all the time so that she could explain how important it was for this medication to be restarted, and her response was they have no jurisdiction here."
Mitchell said she did not receive the immediate care she needed so they left the hospital and called 911.
"Making that decision to leave the ER was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life," Chappell said.
After leaving Gwinnett Medical Center, they drove to a nearby shopping center where paramedics immediately gave Mitchell life-saving treatment.
"I was starting to panic because the real fear of what could happen was hitting me," Mitchell said.
Mitchell's pulmonary specialist at Emory is not surprised that she didn't receive the quick care she needed. He said her disease is rare and only a handful of doctors in the state know how to treat it.
"They don't have to know how to manage the pump or manage the medication at that hospital. They just need to know how to put an IV in and the patient can do everything else," Pulmonary specialist Dr. Micah Fisher said.
A spokesperson for Gwinnett Medical Center released the following statement:
"While we are unable to provide specific details on our patients, we can share applicable patient protocols. In regards to the emergency room, patients are assessed and treated based on acuity. Furthermore, initiation of certain treatments require physician orders to ensure patient safety. In addition, Gwinnett Medical Center has a process to address the concerns of patients or their family members. We highly encourage those individuals to take advantage of this service."
"I feared that she was going to die on that bed before a nurse even entered her room. Not once did a nurse walk through the threshold of that door to check on her," Chappell said.
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