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When a hospital stay turns into a kidnapping

Hospitals can be scary places. If need to go to the hospital, you may be filled with concerns about something going wrong. Perhaps you’ll be misdiagnosed. Maybe your surgeon will make a mistake. Or you might be given the wrong medication. You may have a thousand worries fluttering through your mind. But one scenario you probably don’t expect is to be held in the hospital against your will.

The Mayo Clinic is one of the country’s most esteemed medical centers. When 18-year-old Alyssa suffered a burst blood vessel in her brain, her parents didn’t hesitate to take her to Mayo in order to receive the best care possible. After undergoing risky neurosurgery and given only a 2 percent chance of surviving, Alyssa made it through. She and her family were relieved and grateful.

Hospital staff then transferred Alyssa into the rehabilitation unit to begin her long road to recovery. This is where her quality of care took a steep turn for the worse. In the initial days following her surgery, staff discontinued her oxycodone—which she had been taken to manage her pain—and left her in agony.

In addition, Alyssa’s mother discovered other signs that the rehabilitation staff wasn’t caring for Alyssa properly. Her breathing tube was the wrong size, and they failed to notice that she had contracted a bladder infection. When her mother complained to the staff about these issues, they banned her from visiting her daughter in the hospital.

Alyssa’s parents requested that Alyssa be transferred to another hospital for continued care, but Mayo refused. Alyssa was separated from her family, suffering in silence in her hospital bed. Alyssa’s family later discovered that a clinic social worker had filed paperwork to remove her mother as her legal guardian—and to get a court-appointed guardian in her place.

In the end, Alyssa and her step-father devised a plan which led to her escape from the hospital. Hospital staff tried to physically prevent Alyssa from leaving. They then called 9-1-1 and reported a patient abduction. Police later discarded the allegation once they discovered that Alyssa was a legal adult who had left the premises voluntarily.

Medical kidnapping isn’t an issue that often makes headlines, but it is nonetheless a serious violation of patient rights. If you have faced retaliation by the medical community for advocating for a patient’s health and care, it’s important to consult with a medical malpractice attorney to understand your legal recourse.

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