RIVERSIDE COUNTY, CA — When Jacquelyn Vega’s daughter Vivian began bleeding days after her tonsillectomy, she rushed her to Loma Linda University Medical Center-Murrieta. The 4-year-old was eventually treated, but at a different hospital.
After pleading with the emergency room nurses at Loma Linda University Medical Center-Murrietafor roughly 20 minutes, Vega alleges her daughter was denied treatment.
“She could have died,” Vega said. “I’m in shock.”
Vega said she was instructed to take her daughter to an emergency room immediately if she experienced any bleeding following her tonsillectomy on Feb. 20 at Children’s Hospital of Orange County. When her daughter had minimal bleeding six days later, Vega brought her back to the hospital where she was examined and later discharged.
Hours later, Vivian was “pouring blood from her mouth,” Vega said, and her specialist instructed Vega to get her daughter to the closest emergency room. As soon as she arrived at Loma Linda University Medical Center-Murrieta, Vega requested a phone number so her daughter’s specialist could call and inform hospital staff of the situation.
“Nobody wanted to help me,” she said. “It was immediate attitude from the nurses that worked there. They were reluctant to give me a phone number.”
After her daughter’s specialist spoke to the head nurse, Vega said she expected her daughter would be seen immediately.
“I was insisting on them getting her back there. They didn’t,” she explained. “(The head nurse) and I kind of got into an arguing match back and forth, and I was just stressing to them that my daughter needed to be seen.”
Vega recalled the head nurse said,’‘You’re out of here,” and called security. A security guard escorted Vega from the facility and explained that Loma Linda University Medical Center-Murrieta treats patients on a first come, first serve basis, Vega said.
Vega then informed her daughter’s specialist of the situation, and drove Vivian to Inland Valley Medical Center.
“I was crying; I was hysterical at that point,” Vega said. “My daughter was lethargic.”
Because her daughter’s specialist contacted Inland Valley Medical Center prior to their arrival, Vega said staff were prepared and Vivian was seen right away. Within 30 minutes, an ambulance transported the mother and daughter to Children’s Hospital of Orange County where Vivian’s doctor discovered a 3-millimeter blood clot in the back of her throat that caused the hemorrhage. Vivian had lost 25 percent of her blood.
The specialist familiar with Vivian’s case could not immediately be reached for comment.
Vivian remained at the hospital for observation until Friday morning. She is at home now, and her mother is thankful she didn’t need surgery or a blood transfusion.
“It was just a scary situation. It could have been a lot worse, but thank God it wasn’t,” Vega said. “I don’t want this to happen to somebody else. Somebody else’s child may not make it next time.”
Vega, who told Patch she worked in registration and admittance for four years at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange County, said nurses and technicians are trained to deal with frantic parents and loved ones.
“I’ve seen people be physically violent and be restrained and get treated,” she said. “It’s against the law to turn a patient away.”
While she wasn’t violent, Vega admitted she was frantic.
“She is my only daughter. She is my world,” Vega said. “Seeing her bleed uncontrollably and not being able to stop it or fix it, going off of what her specialist is saying to do and watching a medical professional do absolutely nothing – it was just shocking.”
Kathryn Stiles, a spokeswoman for Loma Linda University Medical Center-Murrieta, encouraged Vega to contact the hospital and file a complaint, but noted she couldn’t comment due to patient confidentiality. Stiles added that the hospital can not refuse care because it’s against the law.
“That’s against the law. We can never do that,” Stiles said. “If that was true, we would have to be dealing with the consequences of that because that’s not allowed.”
Since the incident, Vega has contacted the hospital’s Patient Relations department to file a complaint. She is also sending a letter to the corporate office.
“They said they were going to open an investigation, but I just feel like I’m not getting anywhere with them,” Vega said.