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10 Weird Healthcare Stories of 2009

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, December 22, 2009

Healthcare is a huge profession, with millions of medical professionals serving hundreds of millions of people in every state, 24/7. So it should not be surprising if a few weird stories pop up now and again.

In an effort to tap into a rich vein, we at HealthLeaders Media have cobbled together a list of some of the weirdest stories in the healthcare realm for 2009. We've steered away from the healthcare reform, and anything inside Congress, because they're already weird enough.

All the stories are odd. Some stories are funny. Some most definitely are not. Some, in fact, are tragic. And this list is by no means comprehensive. We feel it safe to say that no list of oddities in healthcare could be comprehensive. We're also not going to rank them, because we can't figure out criteria, other than weird, and that is highly subjective.

MRI grabs Glock

Off-duty Jacksonville (FL) Sheriff's Office Deputy Joy Smith was hurt in September when her hand was trapped between her police-issued Glock handgun and the powerful magnet inside an MRI machine. Smith was able to free herself, but the gun remained stuck for hours while the machine was powered down, which takes 24 hours. Jacksonville Beach police said Smith's hand was injured and she had difficulty bending her thumb, but it was not known if she sought medical treatment.

Convicted rapist gets X-ray tech job at hospital

A decade ago, Gariner Beasley was kicked off the LAPD and sent to prison after he raped women while on-duty and threatened them with arrest and jail if they did not submit. Ordinarily, that might create a problem for some potential employers, but County-USC Medical Center in Los Angeles hired Beasley. Reportedly fully aware of Beasley's criminal past, the hospital hired him as an X-ray technologist after he got out of prison, even though the job would leave him working alone and unsupervised with female patients. He was subsequently fired when the LA Times wrote about it. "We had real pinheads working for us," Supervisor Gloria Molina told the newspaper, referring to managers who cleared the hires.

Philly ER patient dies in waiting room, watch stolen

It's sad and ironic when someone dies unattended in an ER waiting room, so close to the life-saving care, and yet forced to wait because of overcrowding. A security camera was rolling when Joaquin Rivera, 63, brought his hand to his chest and died in the busy emergency room at Aria Health's Frankford campus in Philadelphia, about 11 minutes after complaining to ER personnel of pains in his left side. Rivera's death did not go completely unnoticed, however. The security tape shows that 39 minutes after his passing, another person in the ER stole his watch. Hospital workers walked by him several times, but did not notice that he appeared to be dead until 50 minutes after he'd stopped moving.

Pregnant Vegas woman claims hospital ignored her

A woman says she was ignored for so long at a Las Vegas hospital that she went home and gave birth to a premature baby that later died. Nevada State Board of Nursing administrator Debra Scott wouldn't provide specifics about the complaint stemming from 25-year-old Roshunda Abney's attempt to get treatment Nov. 30 at University Medical Center, the region's only public hospital. Witnesses who were in the waiting room have corroborated accounts by Abney and her fiance, Raffinee Dewberry. They reportedly told authorities that a nursing aide told them to mind their own business or they wouldn't see a physician themselves.

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