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Albuquerque hospital releases dementia patient with no supervision

Here in New Mexico, and throughout the U.S., we like to think of hospitals as a safe place for sick people. While people often do go into the hospital sick and come out better, sometimes hospital errors make people sicker or cause catastrophic results. Due to understaffing, inadequately trained staff, paperwork errors and a variety of other shortcomings, hospital negligence does occur in New Mexico hospitals.

Just last weekend, a local hospital reportedly lost an 82-year-old dementia patient for about 12 hours. Apparently, the woman had been staying at an assisted living center and when she began acting strangely last Saturday and was taken by ambulance to an Albuquerque hospital. Although the hospital noted that she suffered from dementia, doctors reportedly diagnosed no additional issues, and discharged her around 10 p.m. without notifying her family.

New Mexico residents who have a parent or loved one who suffers from dementia are well-aware that it is probably not a good idea to ask someone with dementia or Alzheimer's to take a taxi ride all alone. In this case, however, hospital staff reportedly sat the woman on a bench in a lobby and called a cab, and had no one to watch her to ensure she got in the cab just fine. By the time the taxi arrived, she was no longer on the bench and nobody knew where she went.

Luckily, somehow the woman made it home, but according to her son, she does not recall how she got there and she is suffering from increased mental instability because of the trauma.

The medical director at the hospital said the incident is being investigated, as it is not within protocol to leave a dementia patient on a bench alone to wait for a taxi.

When New Mexico residents and their loved ones are harmed as a result of hospital negligence, they are often wise to talk to experienced lawyers who practice in this area in order to hold the hospital accountable and receive compensation for damages.

Source: KRQE.com, "Elderly woman disappears from hospital," Kim Holland, July 27, 2012

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