Guam Hospital May Face Inquiry Into Patient Care
By Joy White
HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Marianas Variety Guam, Nov. 8, 2012) – Bernard Crisostomo and Laura Kittel, who have publicly announced their concerns with the Guam Memorial Hospital (GMH) regarding the care their parents received at the hospital prior to their deaths, have filed reports with the Joint Commission which oversees the accreditation of GMH.
In turn, the Joint Commission has sent letters to both families stating that the organization is concerned about GMH violating standards and vowing to work with the hospital in investigating the matter.
"We will evaluate the potential implications and the organization’s response and will follow up until a decision is made by us that the organization is in compliance with The Joint Commission standards," the letter to Kittel stated.
Meanwhile, neither family has been able to perform final rites for their loved ones. Crisostomo is still awaiting the official death certificate and results of an autopsy that he was assured would have been completed last week Tuesday.
Yesterday, Crisostomo was informed by Ada’s Funeral Home that the hospital had contacted the funeral home, stating the body of Crisostomo’s father, Joaquin Crisostomo, was ready to be picked up.
However, the results of the autopsy had not been released nor was Crisostomo notified. Crisostomo said after speaking to Chief Medical Examiner Aurelio Espinola yesterday afternoon, it is unclear if the autopsy had been conducted at all.
When asked about his role in the Crisostomo case, Espinola maintained: "It’s the hospital’s case, and beyond my jurisdiction. It’s between him and the hospital. The medical examiner should not be involved."
Crisostomo lost his father Joaquin on Oct. 21 after he had entered the hospital to be treated for the flu. His father had suffered a head injury during his stay at the hospital, the cause of which has not yet been explained.
An autopsy for Kittel’s mother, Karen Kittel, was approved last week Friday. The results have also not yet been released.
Kittel’s mother died on Sept. 25 following three surgeries at the hospital. Kittle questions the care her mother received while admitted, stating that at one point her mother was given a meal containing fish, which her mother was allergic to.
Kittel believes her mother’s death could have been prevented if she had received proper care while at GMH.
GMH officials maintain that both patients’ death was not suspicious or preventable, and that the families’ concerns had been addressed appropriately.
Hospital administrator Joseph Verga is on emergency leave, as of yesterday. Acting Administrator Dr. Larry Lizama had not been notified of any upcoming or pending investigations from the Joint Commission.
Another piece of the puzzle adds to the unfortunate situation as Kittel has released that her mother’s physician was Dr. Vincent Duenas, who has been involved in a lawsuit in which Duenas, along with two other physicians, were accused of causing the death of Tallia Montgomery through negligence, inadequate and improper patient care checks, controls, and record-keeping at GMH in 2009.
According to court documents released in 2011, while under Duenas’ care, Montgomery was given at least 12 milligrams of morphine within a 12-hour period, more than is medically appropriate. As a result Montgomery became physically unresponsive and physically emaciated.
Montgomery died on Dec. 27, 2009.
The Joint Commission is an independent, not-for-profit organization that certifies and accredits health care organizations and programs for quality and performance standards.
GMH was awarded full accreditation from the Joint Commission this year in March.
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