A video of a doctor speaking harshly to an emergency room patient and asking if he’s dead has led to her removal from the work schedule at El Camino Hospital Los Gatos, a hospital spokeswoman said.
The video shows the doctor, Beth Keegstra, mocking 20-year-old Samuel Bardwell, a newly-enrolled student at West Valley College in Saratoga who was brought to the hospital’s emergency room after becoming ill during a basketball practice.
Keegstra tells Bardwell, “I’m sorry, sir, you were the least sick of all the people who are here who are dying. There, so you picked your head up. Now don’t try to tell me you can’t move. C’mon, sit up.”
Keegstra then pulls Bardwell’s arm and again tells him to sit up. Bardwell says he can’t get up and can’t inhale either.
“He can’t inhale. Wow! He must be dead. Are you dead, sir?” Keegstra asks. At one point Keegstra uttered an expletive.
On Wednesday, Keegstra was “removed from the work schedule pending further investigation,” El Camino Hospital spokeswoman Kelsey Martinez said. “Obviously we take this very seriously. This is not reflective of the care this organization provides. We’ve apologized to the patient.”
Keegstra could not be reached for comment.
Samuel’s Bardwell’s father, Donald Bardwell, said his son previously had been diagnosed with anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder and was prescribed Klonopin, which can cause seizures.
“He was on medication for his anxiety, but was off his meds for two days because he couldn’t get to the pharmacy before it closed,” Donald Bardwell said.
“They treated us like we were there just to get drugs,” he added. “We were there for four hours and the doctor finally came in with a security guard. She didn’t even say hello or ask why he was there, just came in with guns blazing. That’s why I started the video.”
Bardwell said he held his phone at chest level during the recording and was not trying to be surreptitious about videotaping the conversation.
“He wasn’t looking too good,” Eitelgeorge said. “It looked like he was having a pretty severe anxiety attack. Sam played for maybe five minutes before he had to step out.”Because Samuel Bardwell is tall — online sports statistics have him at 6 feet 9 inches — he was interested in playing basketball at West Valley and was attending his first summer basketball class Monday night, West Valley basketball coach Scott Eitelgeorge said.
Eitelgeorge said Bardwell tried to “pop back in” to play some more and lifted weights for a few minutes at the end of class before heading outside.
“He collapsed on the grass outside the weight room,” Eitelgeorge said. “When we went outside he tried to get up but fell back down.”
That’s when Eitelgeorge called 911 and “they (paramedics) took him away.”
Keegstra had worked at El Camino since 2010, but she was not a staff employee — the hospital’s emergency room doctors are employed by Emeryville-based Vituity.
“We are saddened that a patient in our care was affected by this behavior and are working to ensure this never happens again,” Vituity spokeswoman Allison Kundu said in an email. “We are conducting a thorough investigation into the matter.”
She added that Keegstra has also been removed “from the schedule at all the hospitals she works at.”
Vituity could not confirm what other hospitals Keegstra may have worked at, but an Internet search listed an office for her at San Jose’s Regional Medical Center. Friday, that office’s phone number connected to Vituity’s switchboard. Other attempts to reach Keegstra were unsuccessful.
Keegstra has never been reprimanded or faced disciplinary actions, a check of Medical Board of California’s listing reveals.
Donald Bardwell did have nice things to say about a nurse “angel” who ordered some tests that showed there were no drugs in his son’s system. As a result, he was given some fluids, supplements and pain medication.
“They did not give him Klonopin,” Bardwell said. “All he needed was a pill or two until he could get his prescription.”