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Doctor, Did You Check Your Checklist?

Wed, 02/08/2012 - 8:17am
Bara Vaida

When Frances Barnes had a stroke in August 2008, she was taken by ambulance to Howard University Hospital. The 80-year-old grandmother was there for about two weeks when she began complaining about pain in her legs. Her daughter Althea Hart pulled back her mother’s blankets and noticed a strange odor.

Hart thought the smell was coming from the compression stockings wrapped around Barnes’s legs to help with circulation, so she took them off. She found that her mother’s left foot had turned black.

Hospital staff had failed to follow physician orders, which required taking off the compression stockings after each shift for at least 30 minutes, according to a DC Department of Health investigation.

"We called a nurse right away, and they tried to heal her infection," says Patricia Moss, another of Barnes's daughters. "But they couldn't."

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