Family questions transport delay after man suffers skull fracture

Donnie Smith’s family said there were ambulances outside of the ER, but he was not transferred for four hours

By EMS1 Staff

TRINITY, Fla. — The family and friends of a man who experienced transport delays for hours after suffering a skull fracture claims the hospital made his condition worse.

ABC Action News reported that Donnie Smith was playing softball when he was hit in the head by a line drive.

“Donnie went immediately to the ground,” teammate Bryan Williams said. “Blood was coming out of his nose. You could already see the swelling.”

Another teammate took Smith to the emergency room at 7:46 p.m.

“You figure a hospital is a hospital. It's there to take care of emergencies,” teammate Jimmy Sigmone said.

Smith was diagnosed with a fractured skull and brain bleed at 8:20 p.m, but ER doctors could not perform the necessary surgery. As a result, a surgical team 13 miles away was put on standby at 9:16 p.m.

“There were ambulances sitting outside the door, and they wouldn't put him in it,” Smith’s sister, Patti Dermer, said. “He's going gray, sweating profusely, chills everywhere.”

Dermer added that she sat alone with Smith, who was given an ice pack for his head, while waiting in the ambulance bay. His heart beat had decreased to 40 beats a minute.

“He wound up throwing up blood all over the room. Blood started gushing out of his nose,” she said.

Hospital records show that ER staff requested a helicopter, but it could not fly due to bad weather. An ambulance was called at 10:21 p.m., more than an hour after a doctor signed a transfer order for Smith.

Smith arrived at the hospital at 11:25 p.m, four hours after he was initially injured. His friends and family wish they had called 911 so that he could have been transported to the right place.

“You can point a million fingers. But the bottom line is he should have got here hours faster than he did,” Sigmone said.

Smith was released from the hospital but still has brain bleeding and suffers from memory and speech problems.

“There are protocols in place, but they weren't followed. And I've got a really big problem with that,” Smith said. “They should be investigated.”

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  3. Transport

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