Mark Hoefen

Mark Hoefen

Mark was 26 years old and living in Florida. He collapsed one day while out with friends and suffered a traumatic brain injury. He was taken to the hospital, where he was fully conscious until he was placed into a drug-induced coma.

On the second day in the hospital, Mark developed pneumonia, probably due to a mishap with his feeding tube. His parents were told that all was well and that it was a matter of time before he would awaken. On the fifth day, Mark’s mother was informed that he was in serious condition. The doctor questioned Mark’s parents about their son’s use of cocaine. Mark was not a cocaine user, and had not been in the past. That being established, the doctor mentioned that the culprit might be the propofol Mark had been given, and said he would recommend dialysis as a treatment for propofol poisoning. Another team of doctors came in, however, and decided Mark wasn’t ready for dialysis. This was a major error, according to later reviewers of Mark’s record. On the final day, a new doctor said he would move Mark to the cardiac unit and give him dialysis. Mark was prepared for dialysis but never received it. After this doctor left, Mark was not moved to the cardiac floor but to the basement, where he was placed in a barren room without even a char. The parents later learned from the medical records that vital medication had been considered and declined.

As Mark’s parents were visiting him in his new room, a nurse told them there was an emergency and asked them to leave the room. The next news they got was their son was dying and that treatment was futile. Mark’s parents were brought back into the room and he died in his mother’s arms.

The medical examiner ruled that Mark’s death was due to excessive bleeding caused by alcohol and drug abuse. Mark had no history of substance abuse; blood work done at the hospital had shown no drugs in his system and the equivalent of one light alcoholic drink. Later, Mark’s parents had his records reviewed by an independent physician who said that their son’s rapid decline was caused by a condition called propofol infusion syndrome. The reviewer also found many other system failures in Mark’s case. Because Florida law forbids lawsuits over the death of adult children, Mark’s parents were not able to get the answers they were seeking about his care. They wrote the hospital and received a written apology acknowledging poor communication, but the hospital refused to meet with them. They were, however, able to get a retraction of the coroner’s erroneous report that their son had died as a result of substance abuse.

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