A California doctor has been suspended from her duties as an emergency room physician and is being investigated after a video shows her grabbing and mocking a patient who reportedly was suffering from an anxiety attack.
Samuel Bardwell, 20, had been hospitalized on Monday after experiencing an anxiety attack after collapsing during a basketball practice, CBS affiliate KPIX5 reports.
Bardwell’s father told SFGATE that he had a history of anxiety attacks, but that his son had not taken any prescription medication in the days prior to the anxiety attack. According to Donald Bardwell, the medication Samuel takes — Klonopin — helps treat seizures, panic disorder and anxiety.
“He had a prescription waiting for him at the pharmacy but couldn’t pick it up; he’s a student and he works,” Donald said. “We didn’t know what the consequences of not taking the meds would be.”
Bardwell said he was left unconscious and numb from head to toe following his collapse at practice.
He added in an interview with NBC 4 that it can be “very fatal.”
“My eyes were rolled to the back of my head,” he said. “I could not see. I could not talk. My breathing was getting lower and lower.”
When they arrived at the hospital, Dr. Beth Keegstra was assigned to treat the 20-year-old, according to NBC 4. She finally arrived after a three-hour wait at El Camino Hospital, and when she did, Keegstra arrived with a security guard.
Bardwell said on seeing the security guard that he knew “it was going to be hostile.”
Video taken by Donald shows the doctor telling Samuel that he was the “least sick of all the people who were here who are dying” and was continually told to sit up.
He tells her that he can’t sit up, and in an extended video provided to The Mercury News, is also heard saying that he can’t inhale to which she laughs and says, “he must be dead.”
At one point, Keegstra is even heard saying at least one expletive towards Bardwell while dismissing his symptoms.
“No, I am not saying anything different than what I’ve said the whole time,” she says in the video.
The 7-foot-1 basketball player responds, saying, “like me,” which results in the expletive from Keegstra.
“No, you have changed your story every f*****g time,” she said. “Yeah, that’s how pissed off you’ve gotten me, OK?”
Days later, Bardwell said he’s still unsure what caused him to be treated in such a manner, but he left the hospital without treatment, concerned he could face injury.
“I wanted to get out of there because I didn’t know if it was going to escalate to the point where she was going to do something worse than she already did,” he told NBC.
Keegstra has now been suspended by El Camino Hospital and CEO Dan Woods said in a statement that they have notified their contracted provider for emergency services to “permanently remove this physician from the list of approved physicians” to provide service at their hospitals. He said they are also investigating the overall situation and had removed Keegstra from their work schedule.
“This week a patient who visited the emergency department at our Los Gatos campus had an interaction with a physician whose demeanor was unprofessional and not the standard we require,” the statement reads. “We have expressed our sincere apologies and are working directly with the patient on this matter.”
Vituity/California Emergency Physicians, El Camino’s contracted provider, is also conducting an investigation, according to a statement.
Despite the interaction, Bardwell said a nurse did order tests which showed the 20-year-old was dehydrated. He was then given fluids, as well as anti-anxiety and pain medications.