Brain Surgery Patient Sent Home in Cab, Ends Up on Street in Hospital Gown

Hospital released man with a cab voucher and staples in his head.

ByABC News
February 10, 2011, 10:13 AM

Feb. 10, 2011— -- The ear-to-ear wound on James Absten's shaved head is still fresh, held together by a row of staples. Less than two weeks ago, Absten, a 58-year-old man from Puyallup, Wash. had a fourth round of surgery for a brain tumor.

Now the medical center that treated Absten is under scrutiny, after sending him home last Thursday from an unscheduled trip to the emergency department in a taxicab. The driver reportedly left him alone on a curb at 10:30 p.m., blocks away from the care facility where he was recovering from the surgery.

"He was in the hospital gown, only socks. It was wet rainy and cold out," a neighbor who found him told ABC News affiliate KOMO 4.

"I was, I was confused," Absten told KOMO.

Neighbors made sure Absten was safely returned to the nearby care facility, where he is undergoing rehabilitation therapy.

Although Absten arrived at the University of Washington Medical Center in a specialized ambulance, the hospital sent him on his way with a cab voucher.

Absten's son, James Absten Jr., said it's unclear whether Absten himself or the hospital gave the cab driver the wrong address for the Linden Grove Health Care Center.

"We apologize to the patient and his family," Tina Mankowski, a spokesperson for the hospital, told KOMO. "This is not the way we discharge our patients."

Mankowski said an investigation into the incident was currently underway, and they agreed to update the Absten family on their findings by the end of this week and develop an action plan to prevent future miscommunications by the end of the month.

The Absten family has also filed a complaint with the state Health Department.

"I just don't want this to have to happen to anybody else," Absten Jr. told KOMO.