A Death That Didn’t Have to Happen — (Indy Bay Peninsula)

SSRI Ed note: Emergency response medical team bungles their effort to rescue man on high dose of Effexor when he attempts suicide.

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Indy Bay Peninsula

by Nancy Rutherford, lalliegreeneyes@yahoo.com

Wednesday Dec 7th, 2005 9:47 PM

A Citizen Investigates a Needless Death in San Mateo County



I sincerely want the public to be aware of incompetent medical care that is going on in the North Bay – namely, Menlo Park, CA and San Mateo Medical Center emergency room of San Mateo County. Andrew Gonzales, the victim, grew up in New Jersey. The first 4 years of his life were spent in an orphanage. The next 14 years were spent in the same foster home. He joined the Navy at age 18, and when he left the Navy he worked for the U.S. Postal Service in Oakland, CA. His parents were of Puerto Rican heritage and they gave up 6 children to orphanages and foster homes because they were unable to care for them properly. He had some bipolar tendencies and was seen at the VA for this, and also completed some drug and alcohol rehab programs. He was a very good person and loved God and his country. He corresponded with his brother in San Francisco, and occasionally with a brother and sister back East. He had not seen his daughter or her Mother since her high school graduation in 10 years. He felt strongly about injustice and felt as I do that all men are created equal, as children of God.

Andy died on August 2, 2005 and I feel this was one of the many thousands of preventable deaths in today’s society. I went to visit him on the morning of August 2, 2005 and found him awake, alert, yet weak with 4 to 5 superficial arm wounds. I called 911 and entrusted my friend’s life to this Emergency Medical Response Team. The care was inappropriate and appalling.

San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office
400 County Center, 4th Floor
Redwood City, CA 94063

After investigating this situation for 4 months I have come to these conclusions which I am referring to the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office (as above):

1. The medical emergency was handled very incompetently – in all of my 39 years as a Licensed Vocational Nurse I’ve never seen such apathy and neglect during an emergency. The Police Blotter said the ambulance left at 10:22 AM. The Autopsy said it arrived at San Mateo Medical Center at 11:25 AM. Since when do you take a patient 45 minutes away when he was fading. I suggested the VA and Stanford is where Andrew Gonzales regularly gave blood. The ambulance sat out in front of Andy’s apartment for 5 to 10 minutes and according to the Autopsy report there was no IV in him when the code started. What happened to a drug screen, possibly an Ng tube and charcoal. My belief is that Andy bled out, and if the proper procedures were done he would have lived; and I will not change my opinion on that.

2. Anti-depressants tend to make people feel suicidal so you have to go full steam ahead – and not pass judgment – for instance if a person had self inflicted cuts on his arm. Overdose effects of Venlafaxine are elevated temperature, severe muscle tension, agitation, convulsions, drowsiness, extreme tiredness or weakness, fast heartbeat, tingling or burning, prickling sensations, trembling, or shaking. I did not see these symptoms when I arrived at Andy’s apartment. Andy was at the end of his two-week supply of Venlafaxine. A two-week supply is 4,200mg. The drug literature states that a person took 6,000mg and lived. There should have been a lab drug screen test done at San Mateo General – stat when he arrived. Each lab can have a different lab value system so it is difficult to get to the core of the matter.

3. A lot of these psych drugs cause lab alterations such as was spoken about in the autopsy – even when taking the prescribed dosage!

4. An H and H should have been drawn immediately and blood started – Andy’s card was in his wallet. Type O (Universal compatible blood) can be given without a type and cross match autopsy says 1 hour after he arrived – blood draw.

5. There is a lot of inconsistent data in the autopsy report. It was repeated several times in the autopsy report about polysubstance abuse. Interestingly enough there were no findings of this in the autopsy report. It also states in the autopsy report that Nancy Rutherford stated that Andrew Gonzales told her that he wanted to commit suicide in a phone call. This is untrue. He never stated that he wanted to die the day before his death, or when I arrived at his home to find the emergency.

6. Drug sheets from the Manufacturer are attached and the symptoms are not congruent with a drug overdose.

7. Symptoms are congruent with Cardiac Arrest from a loss of blood (Andy bled out). Cardiac Arrest was the diagnosis that San Mateo Medical Center gave the VA and nothing was done to correct this blood loss until Andy started to desat 02 at 2L 93% and became unresponsive – Cardiac Arrest – which led to the aspiration – I will bet my life on this, and if anything happens to me my family will have “standing for a lawsuit”. I don’t have standing – but I don’t need it in this case – it’s too obvious, and I don’t want this to happen to another human being in Andy’s Memory.

8. And, as the eye witness, I was left behind to clean up the apartment, entrusting my friend’s life to these incompetent, shameful people (9 of them), and I discovered more blood, which even more substantiates that the loss of blood is what killed Andy – homicide – not suicide – Dr. Kavorkian did too much – these people did nothing – which I feel is the same being a medical professional. I walked the walk – we monitored people closely from San Quentin to Salinas Valley State Prison. Enclosed is a copy of my resume. We fought to save people’s lives – what happened here! I want this investigated, and I want to talk to the doctor in charge. I want this incident documented and I want answers. In my opinion this borders on criminal behavior. And I want the agency (Board of Health) to investigate this incident also.

9. The full IV bags and the last ditch effort to save Andy was only for show – because nothing was done; 39 years of my life was devoted to healthcare, and this incident is shocking and inexcusable. I gave these people a complete report – they were very unprofessional and they broke confidentiality. Justice has to be done here. I’ve talked to several professionals and they agree with my conclusions.

10. This is a Formal Complaint from a Medical Professional that witnessed incompetent, neglectful care. I can copy the exhibits and anything you need for your investigation. I’ve completed my preliminary investigation, and I still intend to inform the general public (First Amendment Right) and I feel the autopsy report is exaggerated and not completely accurate. I feel this whole case should be thoroughly investigated from the ambulance activity, the Fire Department being present, and the Police Officer making medical decisions. A 72-hour hold is fine but Andy needed emergency medical care, first and foremost. And what truly went on at San Mateo Medical Center. Why did Andrew die and what could have been done to prevent his death? I want answers because I’m reporting a documented preventable, death in an emergency room – one of the many thousands! Looking back on the situation I would have more confidence in my Veterinarian. I am currently opening a children’s daycare in my home and God forbid if I ever needed to call an ambulance I would hope and pray to God that the standards of care would be above and beyond – compared to the substandard care that Andrew Gonzales received on the day of his death.

I, Nancy Rutherford, grew up in Burlingame, CA — headquarters of Amercian Medical Response. I have worked in the prison system as a nurse. I’m basing this wrong doing and neglect, here, on criminality as medical indifference because I always went the extra mile for patients with judgment. Again, I entrusted my friend’s life to these people — 9 — WHAT HAPPENED? I am attempting to break this “Wall of Silence” so that these atrocities stop and that people get proper medical care — without judgment — A HUMAN RIGHT.