Escape from the Mayo Clinic?!?

In a jaw-dropping moment caught on video, an 18-year-old high school senior rushes to escape from the hospital that saved her life and then, she says, held her captive. The whole episode was filmed by family and later shared with the press.

Alyssa Gilderhus suffered from a ruptured brain aneurysm on Christmas morning, 2016. After four brain surgeries and given a grim 2% chance of survival, she was transferred to Mayo’s inpatient rehab clinic to begin her recovery. Here, Alyssa’s mom, Amber, had multiple disagreements with members of Alyssa’s care team. She began to doubt the team as questions went unanswered and tensions rose.

Amber claims she was essentially banned from participating in Alyssa’s care, and other family members were excluded as well. To make matters worse, a Mayo case manager had reportedly begun seeking conservatorship for Alyssa so others could make decisions for her.

The family began asking to be transferred to another facility and Alyssa later stated, “They were cruel to me.” The family believed Alyssa was truly being held captive, a “medical kidnapping” in essence. In a drastic attempt to free her, they concocted a story about taking Alyssa downstairs to visit her elderly grandmother. There was no grandmother, but instead, Amber in the getaway car. You can read the full story on CNN here.  But after I did this live video, THIS came out, so please listen for the side of the story CNN didn’t report.

How can we prevent matters from reaching this stage?

This story has massive and nuanced medical and ethical implications. I don’t have all the backstory and the answers, but we can still talk about a way to look at these cases, particularly when we receive only one side from the news (as hospitals and healthcare providers typically won’t comment on details of these cases).

Where was the ethics committee in this case?

Guys, this is an example of a conflict where getting an ethics committee and the family involved early might have prevented problems like this from occurring before they escalate to this degree. Allowing patients to get second opinions and transfer if there is an accepting facility (and factoring in that insurance often won’t pay for lateral transfers) is important as well. But since we don’t know exactly what interactions between family and staff occurred, it’s very hard to armchair quarterback this one (although again, the press will try). This just in: Mayo’s response to the CNN piece. PLEASE READ THIS (as of 8/15/18)

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And a followup, now with Mayo’s side of the story!

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