The family of Thomas Vera is upset after a broken bed alarm and security mishaps allowed Vera to wander away from his hospital room without anyone noticing. Thomas Vera, 57, wandered out of his hospital room at UCSD Medical Center in May 2013. His body was found five days later less than a mile from the hospital entrance.
An investigation revealed broken alarm systems that were known to be inoperable but went without repair. Vera, who was being treated for severe head and neck injuries, was disoriented and should not have been allowed outside of his hospital room. According to the California Department of Health and Human Services, an alarm attached to Vera’s bed did not go off after he left. When nurses finally noticed he was missing, they attempted to contact security by using a paging system, which also wasn’t functioning. As an alternative, the nurses pushed the panic button twice, but received no response. The panic button was broken for eight days. State inspectors claim the hospital failed to routinely test the buttons and failed to make timely repairs when broken.
After Thomas Vera’s death, UCSD implemented a visual system in which patients like Vera are given orange wrist bands as a visual cue they shouldn’t be walking around unattended.
UCSD released this statement in response to the incident:
UCSD has not been fined or penalized as a result of this mishap. They paid the Vera family $85,000 to settle their claim.
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