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Father says doctors failed to treat his injured son

An emergency medical worker corroborates the dad's story, but a hospital administrator denies doctors refused to treat the boy.

By JENNIFER FARRELL

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 29, 2000


BROOKSVILLE -- All Terry Mintz heard was the sound of his son screaming.

When he turned and saw 9-year-old Justin writhing in pain on the ground after being run over by a pickup truck Saturday morning, all he could think about was getting the boy to a hospital.

On instinct, Mintz scooped the child up, loaded him into the family minivan and headed to Brooksville Regional Hospital.

It was a 2-mile trip from the Hernando County Fair Grounds, where the Hudson family had been preparing to watch Justin's mother ride in a horse show.

But when Mintz arrived at the emergency room entrance, he began to regret his decision not to call 911. For 10 to 15 minutes, Justin lay screaming in the van as doctors failed to come out to the parking lot, he said.

"We were just sitting out here," said Mintz, minutes after a helicopter lifted off with his son for the trauma center at St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa. "It felt like an eternity."

EMS workers were concerned that Justin's leg, rib and pelvis might be broken. On Saturday afternoon, Mintz said Justin was in stable condition with no broken bones, but doctors were checking for internal bleeding.

He complained that doctors at Brooksville Regional were extremely slow to respond and said he is considering filing a complaint.

"I had to go in and yell," he said. "What if it had been more serious?"

A Brooksville firefighter who answered the hospital's call for help in getting Justin out of the van said doctors simply refused to come out to the parking lot.

"That's where it went to s--- from there," said Lt. Dennis Wilfong. "I went ahead and called for an ambulance and called for a helicopter."

Hospital Administrator Tom Barb denied that doctors refused to treat Justin.

"We know that the doctor was in the parking lot and assessed the boy at least four times," he said. "What we were waiting for was some assistance in getting the child out of the car without harming him further."

Barb said the hospital had a surgeon and an X-ray technician standing by to treat Justin, once he was brought inside.

"Our staff was out there continuously from the time they arrived until he was airlifted out," addded Barb.

Not so, said Wilfong.

"I don't know what their normal procedure is," he said.

"I had a kid that had been run over in the mid-section with the wheels of a one-ton truck, and I needed the doctor out here in the parking lot."

Barb said the decision to transport Justin by helicopter was not unusual, because none of the county's hospitals are equipped as trauma centers.

"Of course, we're going to be looking into it in a lot more detail," he said.

"From what I've been told so far, we did everything we could."

Brooksville Fire Department Capt. Frank Phillips was still angry after the helicopter took off.

"This is ridiculous to be this close to an emergency room and have a doctor not come out to help," he said. "This is a hospital. You think they would do something."

Mintz praised the emergency workers who helped Justin and said if he had to do over again, he might not drive to the hospital himself.

"I just want to see my son get fixed," he said. "I probably should have just called the Fire Department."

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