There is more detailed information available in the case mentioned above.
“. . . The state Health Department found [St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center]'s care of patient Colleen S. Burns in 2009 unacceptable and a federal agency criticized the hospital for not properly investigating the cause. The hospital’s mishandling of the case was part of the reason the state Health Department fined St. Joe’s $22,000 last September – the largest fine levied against a Central New York hospital since 2002. . . . St. Joe’s was fined $6,000 over the Burns case and $16,000 for leaving a patient unattended before she fell and injured her head in 2011. . . . The state could not find a case similar to the Burns case after reviewing the past 10 years of inspection records, a spokesman said. . . .”
This does not sound like a “system” that “rife with abuse.” It sounds like a hospital with incompetent staff on hand at that particular time and place, with a particular patient with a particular condition: “Burns had been in a deep coma from taking an overdose of drugs. Hospital personnel misread that as irreversible brain damage without doing enough to evaluate her condition, the state Health Department found.”
". . . A series of mistakes that began shortly after Burns arrived in the emergency room suffering from a drug overdose led to the near catastrophe. . . "
“. . . The hospital made no effort to thoroughly investigate what went wrong until it was prodded by the state. . . .”
". . . Dr. David Mayer, general and vascular surgeon and an associate professor of clinical surgery at New York Medical College, also reviewed the records and found the use of a sedative perplexing… . . The hospital erred four or five times, Mayer said. He called the case a gross deviation from all prevailing and accepted standards of care. . . "
Unless someone can tell me that the staff planned all along to “murder” this unfortunate woman and took every wrong step at every available turn in order to “steal” her organs, then I doubt there was an army of medical ghouls standing around with scalpels ready to pounce before she took her final breath.
Commentor Jonny Smith said it right in his post following the article: “For a hospital that makes millions of dollars a year a few thousand dollars isn’t even a slap on the wrist it is simply a stern look. The fine isn’t punitive enough to cause any real changes.”
Commentor MMD211 had a very interesting point – “In my opinion… the potential organ donation probably saved her life. The alternative would’ve been them withdrawing life-support and sticking her in a body bag in the morgue once they were told she died.”
What is most unfortunate? After all this “. . . Colleen Burns, 41, of North Syracuse, recovered from her overdose of Xanax, Benadryl and a muscle relaxant and was discharged from the hospital two weeks after the near-miss in the operating room. But 16 months later, in January 2011, she committed suicide, said her mother, Lucille Kuss.”
Horrible? Yes, absolutely. Would I have wanted to be this patient? Heck, no!!! Does this happen consistently? I don’t think so. Am I a donor? Yes, this doesn’t change my mind. I believe I have been spiritually led to be a donor, and I trust in the wisdom of my Creator who leads me to do that which is good. I also donate blood regularly, and I am a volunteer on the bone-marrow donor registry. Although I’ve not yet been called as a match, I pray someday that call will come. I believe there is no greater act of charity than giving the gift of life to another human being, a stranger.
I do not mean to mis-advise you. Such a decision must be made privately by each and every one of us. I am only providing my personal thoughts and decisions. As a non-Catholic, I had my attorney draw-up legal documents which donate my entire body to science (skin for burn victims, corneas for the blind, etc.), and the cremains (cremated remains) will be presented to my family for remembrance or disposal as I find no need for what is left of my shell to be buried in an expensive cemetery in a plot of ground rendered useless for any other purpose. (There are “green” cemeteries which I actually find a pleasant idea. A person’s remains are interred in a sturdy but cardboard “coffin” which deteriorates quickly and naturally underground allowing the body to do the same, and trees are planted everywhere making for a beautiful forest in which to walk, pray and meditate.)
When in doubt, confide in a Priest - or more than one! - who know(s) your heart, and have this discussion with him/them. If you are a female, perhaps ask some Sisters what their hearts tell them. Let their input guide you through the nuances of your religion and the feelings of your own conscience.
May you be blessed.