A Brooklyn man brought to Maimonides Medical Center with chest pains in July 2008 endured what his family now calls a tragedy of errors that led to his death. Jacob Goldbrenner was sent to the Brooklyn hospital’s cardiac catheterization lab so doctors could treat his ailing heart.
But they couldn’t find the key to the lab. They couldn’t locate an anesthesiologist. And then one doctor couldn’t even find the lab itself, according to a lawsuit filed last week in Brooklyn Supreme Court. Minutes turned to hours as the 52-year-old clothing salesman’s condition worsened.
“We all felt a sense of desperation and frustration,” said Baruch Goldbrenner, 27, who watched his father’s health deteriorate. “We were waiting for some sort of intervention. We were desperate and scared.”
At one point, Baruch Goldbrenner said, he was aghast as he followed a first-year resident who didn’t know how to get to the lab where doctors check blood flow and heart defects and perform angioplasty or other procedures.
“He just couldn’t find it,” the son said. “He was just utterly lost.”
Jacob Goldbrenner, who had a stent put in years earlier, had a heart attack while he waited for nearly five hours, the lawsuit charges. Goldbrenner’s heart wasn’t getting oxygen and doctors needed to intubate – place a tube into his lungs. Instead, the tube went into his stomach by mistake, according to the family’s lawyer Michael Schlesinger.
“From every point there were delays,” Schlesinger said. “There was so much damage that the only way he could survive was with a heart transplant.”
Doctors told relatives Goldbrenner could get a heart at Westchester Medical Center, and he was put in an ambulance and given a police escort.
“It was like, ‘Hey, he has a second chance,'” his son said.
But at Westchester, there was no heart and no hope.
“It was just like someone stabbing a knife right into our collective hearts,” Baruch Goldbrenner said.
Less than two weeks later, Jacob Goldbrenner was dead.
A Maimonides spokeswoman defended the hospital’s cardiac care unit as one of the nation’s best, but declined to comment on a pending lawsuit.
“Frustration, devastation, sadness. There’s just no word for this,” Baruch Goldbrenner said.
It’s been a very long year without the man he described as “quiet, understated, happy-go-lucky and always greeting everyone he knew with a smile.”
He added: “Heart attacks in this day and age are survivable. Things just took longer than necessary.”
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