The Investigators

Aug 7, 2013 8:12 PM

ER Snafu?

Steve Moore believes he's lucky to be alive. The 60-year old retired sheet metal worker and Pine Top resident had chest pains during a family reunion on June 17th. A week later, on June 24th, the pains became severe.

Moore told the News 4 Tucson Investigators, "It felt like somebody was standing on my chest and jumping up and down on it and i was really faint. It got to the point where I thought I was going to die right there."

So Steve's brother drove him to Northwest Medical Center, arriving at 4:00 p.m. Moore says he was triaged within ten minutes. That's the process of determining patients' treatments, based on the severity of their condition. A key point: Moore had a heart attack and triple bypass in 2009; he still bears a faint scar from that surgery. Moore says he immediately told the Northwest emergency room staff about his history of heart problems.

Moore said despite that, "And then we sat there for approximately, two, two and a half hours and it got worse so I went up to the counter where I checked in and said my chest is starting to hurt worse, is there somebody I can see? And the lady sitting behind the computer said that she would tell my nurse, and that's all the response I got."

Moore says another 50 minutes passed. It was 7:20 pm, and he'd been at Northwest for three and 20 minutes.

"I walked up to the desk and I said, ‘This is getting drastic. I need to see somebody.' And there was three people behind the desk and one of the men said that ‘we just don't have room for you right now.' And I said, 'Well I hope I don't pass out here. And he says, ‘I don't think that'll happen.'"

Moore sat back down in the waiting room for another 10 minutes. At 7:30, three and a half hours after arriving at Northwest, he'd had enough.

"I took my little wristband off, threw it on the counter and I said, this is ridiculous, i'm going to die here. I've got to go to another hospital, and I just walked out. I didn't work for any paperwork or anything."

Moore was then driven to Oro Valley Hospital, where he says he was immediately triaged and admitted. He claims a nurse at Oro Valley critisized his long wait at Northwest.

Moore said, "She told me that that was unquestionable, that they don't do that, that hospital policy, when you say you have chest pains, they immediately take care of you, they don't make you wait."

That' s interesting, considering Oro Valley and Northwest have the same owner. Moore says he was admitted quickly at Oro Valley, was soon in intensive care, and spent three nights in the hospital. As his patient discharge summary states, he had congestive heart failure. Moore says an angiogram revealed a blocked coronary artery. A stent was inserted, and Moore was released from Oro Valley Hospital three days later.

Moore told us, "The doctors there, after they diagnosed me, said the condition I was in, I could have had a major heart attack, something that was very life-risking within two days to two months."

Northwest Medical Center officials declined an interview, citing privacy laws. Spokesperson Kim Chimene said in a statement: "...patients who arrive in our ER complaining of chest pains are immediately triaged and an EKG is performed to determine if the patient is having a heart attack...chest pain patients and patients with life-threatening conditions are always given priority."

However, Moore says he did not undergo an EKG at Northwest, only at Oro Valley, and says if not for the excellent treatment there, "I'd probably be in a coffin."

We called about a dozen cardiologists and other doctors to get their opinion about whether Steve Moore's situation was properly handled. All of them declined our request.

Remember, if you have a story you'd like us to investigate, please email us at investigators at kvoa.com.

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