[ This is copied from Exhibits AA-189 through AA-192 of David McKee, MD, V. Dennis K. Laurion, Minnesota Sixth Judicial District Case 69DU-CV-10-1706, Filed June 9, 2010. Other addressees of this document can be found within other exhibits or documents of Case 69DU-CV-10-1706. ]
APRIL 22, 2010
Subject: Patient Care Complaint
Patient Advocate, St. Luke’s Hospital, 915 East First Street, Duluth MN 55805
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen:
My father, Kenneth Laurion, born in May of 1925, suffered a hemorrhagic stroke and spent four days at St. Luke’s Hospital in Duluth MN from April 17, 2010, through April 21, 2010. After first repeating my father’s praise for the staff of St. Luke’s, I want to offer negative feedback about one incident that left my family appalled, embarrassed, frightened, and then upset.
My mother knew only that my father was experiencing vertigo and emesis. She wanted my help getting him to the Emergency Department of St. Luke’s Hospital. Seeing that my father’s face was reddened, and fearing that his sudden onset could stem from a stroke, rather than an illness, I told my mother that the Fire Department would better assess and transport him.
. . .
During my father’s second day in the ICU, his nurse Mike assured us that his second CT was reassuring and that a third CT – with contrast – ruled out aneurysms. He recorded the family observation that my father’s right arm tremble was not pre-existing. During a family visit, my father told us he was visited by a physical therapist and a speech therapist. It appeared from his account that they had each been evaluating him rather than beginning a therapy regimen.
My father spent his third and fourth day at St. Luke’s in room 411. My mother, my wife, and I visited him within an hour of his move from ICU. His nurse and nursing student introduced themselves and discussed his situation with us. My mother expressed her concern that “This could happen to him again?” She was told that, while it was possible, his CT with contrast ruled out present aneurysms.
While we visited my father, a doctor strode into the room. He appeared annoyed. He asked my father if he were Mr. Laurion. I was surprised that he asked the question in that manner. As a Coast Guard Health Services Technician, I had never asked patients a yes or no question. I’d have asked “What is your name?” My father has conversational hearing loss and could have thought he was being asked, “Are you warm?” When my father said yes, the doctor said, “When you weren’t in the ICU, I had to find out whether you had transferred or died.” He sounded like he blamed my father for this loss of his time. When my wife and mother and I gaped at the doctor, he told my father, “Some stroke patients die before getting out of ICU; I guess this is the better option.” I was appalled! I wondered whether the doctor had a terrible bedside manner or a terrible sense of humor. My mother didn’t need to be reminded that my father could have died.
The doctor said that he was Dr. McKee and “I have to do a neurology exam.” When my father answered that a physical therapist and a speech therapist had seen him, and that he was used to being asked his date of birth, asked where he was, and asked to pull or push against the examiner’s hands; Dr. McKee said, “Therapy? You don’t need that!” Dr. McKee asked if my father could sit up and began lifting him up by his arms. When my father was seated on the edge of the bed, Dr. McKee asked him to get out of bed and walk around. My father’s gown hung from his neck, but his back was exposed. He said, “I think I can walk, but this gown doesn’t cover my backside.” Dr. McKee said, “That doesn’t matter,” and pulled my father’s arms toward him. My wife asked Dr. McKee to wait a moment while we exited the room.
In the hall, my mother said, “What did he mean ‘transferred or died’?” My wife said, “He shouldn’t have said it, and he should have asked us to leave the room.” When Dr. McKee left five minutes later, he glanced at us and said, “You can go back in.” He didn’t give us status or ask for family observations about my dad’s mental or physical state. He walked to a nurse seated next to a tub of patient charts and stood near her, scowling.
Before leaving, I visited the nursing station to determine that my father had been visited by David C. McKee, MD, of Northland Neurology & Myology. I’d write to Northland Neurology & Myology, but Dr. David C. McKee is half of the practice, and Dr. McKee didn’t strike me as interested in anything I have to say. He saw my father as an old guy for whom “I have to do a neurology exam.”
From the online feedback sites I visited today, I learned that my opinion of Dr. David C. McKee is not at all unique. I mentioned my father’s experience to a nurse friend. She predicted that I was speaking of Dr. McKee. I asked how she anticipated that. She said, “He’s a tool!”
I think that all of your organizations should reinforce the need to see the patient as a person. Dr. McKee saw my father as a task and a charting assignment. He should have listened to him, he should have asked his wife some questions. We know to keep quiet while he speaks to my father, but afterwards we could have provided baseline comments about his prior status.
My father enlisted in the Navy at age 17 during World War II. By age nineteen, he was a Navy combat medic in the Solomon Islands, a Second Class Petty Officer, the equivalent of an Army or Marine Corps Staff Sergeant. My father worked two jobs and supported a family while obtaining a Ph. B. and an M. S. in Geriatric Counseling. He was a Boy Scout leader, an Elder in his church, a high school teacher, and a systems analyst at the advent of the computer age. At a time when my mother was terrified that her husband was about to die, I truly wish that Dr. David C. McKee had taken the time to afford my father the dignity that he deserves.
Dennis K. Laurion
Chief Petty Officer, U. S.Coast Guard (Retired)
Disability Claims Specialist, Social Security Administration (Retired)
Medical Records Analyst, SMDC (Retired)
[ In January 2011, Defendant Laurion was deposed about his letter to St. Luke’s Hospital of Duluth, Minnesota. That deposition transcript became an Exhibit in the Minnesota Defamation Lawsuit of David McKee, MD, V. Dennis K. Laurion, Minnesota Sixth Judicial District Case 69DU-CV-10-1706, Filed June 9, 2010. ]
TANICK: And you sent it to St. Luke’s Hospital. Right?
LAURION: Because he has privileges from St. Luke’s, and at that point, I thought that somebody with an M.D. after his name would call him in and say, “We don’t like getting complaints like this. Could you be a little friendlier in the future, and we’ll consider this over.”
TANICK: So the reason you wrote to St. Luke’s – you wanted somebody in authority there to admonish Dr. McKee. Right?
LAURION: I wanted somebody to tell him that they either felt that that was poor behavior or that the writer thought that was poor behavior, and we don’t like getting letters like this.
TANICK: Did you have any communications back from St. Luke’s?
TANICK: Was that Dr. Gary Peterson?
TANICK: He was the medical director there. Right?
LAURION: I’m not sure what his title is, but he’s the senior medical officer, by whatever name.
TANICK: And what – what did he tell you?
LAURION: Initially I got a letter from him that said that Dr. McKee is not their employee and that therefore his recourse was limited to giving a copy of my complaint to Dr. McKee, and that he had done so.
TANICK: You also wrote to the Minnesota Medical Association?
TANICK: And what was your purpose in doing that?
LAURION: My purpose was the same as my purpose in all of the others. They were either regulatory bodies or they were peer-review bodies, and my ultimate goal was that somebody would say, “You should be careful how you address your patients so that we don’t get these complaint letters.