My father ended up in the emergency room and was put into a coma. How can I go about getting medical information from the hospital?

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When he went to the ER, he was able to give them his mother's name for them to call. My aunt and grandmother didn't go see him until two days later when he was already in a coma. Nobody knows what happened to him. He is now in a nursing home with a tracheotomy tube and a feeding tube, heavily medicated and doesn't know who any of us are half the time. My question is, how can I go about getting medical information from the hospital about what they did to him? Nobody seems to want to share any information, and my grandmother will not go and get the information that she can. How hard would it be to obtain guardianship over him? He is still legally married to my mother but they have not had contact for 8 years.

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Top Answer
Very difficult situation. Can you ask the hospital and/or NH who they CAN release information to and then follow that up? My heart goes out to you.
Tashalg, I think there are a lot of things that could have happened, but I don't believe there's enough information to assume or blame the hospital. They don't trach or insert feeding tubes w/o good reason.

If your father was beaten, there's also the possibility that criminal action is pending and they don't want to, or have been advised by the police, not to discuss the potential issues with anyone.

On the issue of the trach and feeding tube specifically, he could have sustained respiratory issues that compromised his breathing and couldn't have survived w/o a trach and feeding tube. Did he have any respiratory problems before this incident?

And with a history of drinking, there might be other health issues of which you're unaware.

I think rather than thinking the hospital did something, it might be appropriate to consider that, yes, it did, but it assisted in keeping him alive and breathing, perhaps through intubation first, followed by a trach and feeding tube.

My question would be whether or not he's getting respiratory therapy in the nursing home, as that would be the appropriate way to address getting the trach removed.

It sounds as if there's a lack of communication in the family for some reason. Perhaps the situation is such that your relatives don't want you to know, or perhaps your father didn't want you to know and worry.

But I think the hospital is the last entity that should be blamed. The staff may actually have saved his life.
Tashalg I'm very sorry for what's happened to your father; it's just that I think you could really use the Serenity Prayer right now.

You are having to deal with the teeth-grinding frustration of not being able to get sensible answers to straightforward questions, and it must feel as though people are being intentionally obstructive. But it's not their fault your father hadn't appointed a health care proxy, or that your grandmother is what sounds like a bit defeatist, would you agree? And rules is rules.

If you're happy with the care he's receiving now, as far as you can gauge what it's like anyway, maybe just wait and see. Perhaps visit first, when you can, and defer any plans until then.
When your Aunt and Grandma went to see him in the hospital, and he was " already in a come", what did they tell grandma about what had happened?

Had for father been ill before this summer? Can you just put gm in the car and take her to the NH? She doesn't have to do anything, just be there while your dad's condition is explained to her. She must be suffering horribly to see one of her kids so ill!
Slow brain bleeds can cause someone who is walking and talking after an event to suddenly become critical, and there is no knowing how long he delayed before calling for help. I've often heard of those with a brain injury being put in a medically induced coma to allow the brain to stabilize, although the coma might have also been a result of the injury too. I'm sorry that you are running into so may road blocks in trying to be his advocate, it is frustrating when rules meant to protect privacy instead become ridiculous barriers to information. If you truly want to step up then I think applying for an emergency guardianship is the only way to do it. Good luck.
Call your mom again and tell her how important this is to you. Use guilt if you have to.

I'm going out on a limb here, please don't be offended. Is your dad an alcoholic? Sure sounds like it. At age 58, he shouldn't have the health problems he has, and he's been living in a NH? I'm 61 and I cannot fathom that (barring extreme health issues).

If he has been an "unrepentant" alcoholic for many years --I can see why both your mother and his have stepped away. At some point, most family members of alcoholics do just that--walk away. The burden of the problems brought about by an alcoholic just wear you out. You think they are being cruel--maybe they are just enforcing some boundaries and not being drawn in to his dramatic life anymore. Don't judge them for it--nobody can change your dad.

You do not *know* that they don't care. You feel it. You haven't stayed close to your dad and maybe they have been through so much with him, they just...can't.

It's wonderful that you love your dad and that you care so much. But, not everyone feels as you do.

Perhaps and honest and calm conversation with Gma would set your mind at rest. Emphasis on CALM. Can you get to where he is? See for yourself? Hearing everything secondhand is frustrating and kind of pointless.

And do look into Al-Anon programs for families of alcoholics. You might find some insight there that will help you.
I know you want to find someone/something to blame for dad's situation. Probably the blame lays squarely on his own shoulders--and that is hard to accept.
tashalg3480, you can only get information from the hospital or the nursing home only if your name is on what is called a HIPAA form. This form has to do with privately issues, and even though you are patient's daughter, your Dad probably forgot to add your name when he was in the ER.

As a patient in ER, his mind is in a whirl and it can get confusing. He can't add your name at this moment in time.

As for guardianship, from what I have read, it is quite expensive. Who is your Dad's Power of Attorney? Was it your mother? Or Dad never had a Power of Attorney made?

Here is an article I found here on Aging Care regarding guardianship.
How old is your dad? Curious as to how old that would make his mom.
You may have to lay the guilt on pretty think to get her to talk, or go to the hospital--this doesn't make sense at all!

It's unlikely the hospital did anything to cause this to happen to your dad. We get sick, stuff happens and it's just easier to blame it on sub-par care, when in fact you know nothing of what happened.

Either pony up the $1500 for the guardianship (ask yourself first if you REALLY want to be that deeply involved) or get GM to the hospital. Your GM must be on his contact information sheet, or she wouldn't have been called.

Good luck with this.
My thought is that YOU need al-anon. It helps so many people who have alcoholic family members - alive, close, far, and even dead. I totally understand wishing you could do more for your dad - that's a normal emotion. Al-Anon will help you understand why guardianship is not a good idea and help you see how to be a good daughter to him! I know this is super hard. You can go to just one meeting and it will help. Hugs!

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