USA TODAY by Christina Jewett, Kaiser Health News, and Mark Alesia
March 2, 2018
The surgery went fine. Her doctors left for the day. Four hours later, Paulina Tam started gasping for air.
Internal bleeding was cutting off her windpipe, a well-known complication of the spine surgery she had undergone.
But a Medicare inspection report describing the event says that nobody who remained on duty that evening at the Northern California surgery center knew what to do.
In desperation, a nurse did something that would not happen in a hospital.
She dialed 911.
By the time an ambulance delivered Tam to the emergency room, the 58-year-old mother of three was lifeless, according to the report.
If Tam had been operated on at a hospital, a few simple steps could have saved her life.
But like hundreds of thousands of other patients each year, Tam went to one of the nation’s 5,600-plus surgery centers. [READ MORE]