A call from a houseguest summoned Jessica Shaw, 38, to her mother's Dallas home the day before Valentine's Day. She panicked upon finding her 59-year-old mom in bed completely unresponsive.
Over the next few days, as her mother's condition worsened in the intensive-care unit at Dallas Regional Medical Center in Mesquite, Texas, Shaw's anxiety turned to frustration. Hospital staffers were rude and condescending, she said, and they repeatedly ignored her questions about treatments.
After her mom, Laura Parker, died on Feb. 20, Shaw wanted to talk with staff about her experience and get clarity about what had happened. She got no response, she said.
In March, she filed a complaint with the hospital's risk management director. After more than two months without a reply, she grew inconsolable and began calling attorneys. “I cannot believe this!” Shaw wailed in a telephone interview. “It's as if they don't care. My mom died in their hospital and they show no sympathy, no nothing.”
Hospital officials did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
Deaths, whether inevitable or caused by preventable medical errors, happen daily at most hospitals. But few have adopted best practices for dealing with complaints or even questions when they arise from family members and caregivers, whose first and understandable reaction often starts with the word “why.”