Hospital Fined After 'Dead' Woman Wakes Up While Doctors Try To Remove Organs


by Casie Kolbinsky

SYRACUSE, N.Y.--A new report pertaining to a "dead" woman who woke up just as doctors were about to remove her organs reveals a number of mistakes during her care at a Syracuse hospital.

Doctors pronounced Colleen S. Burns dead in 2009 at St. Joseph's Hospital Center and were just about to take out her organs when she suddenly awoke, sources say.

The report, which was obtained via New York's Freedom of Information Law, says hospital personnel committed numerous errors during Burns' stay. One of the mistakes occurred when doctors ignored a nurse who alerted them Burns' condition had been improving, according to the report.

Doctors said Burns was brain dead after she overdosed on Benadryl, Xanax and a muscle relaxant. Family members reportedly decided to take Burns off life support after doctors informed them they thought the woman had suffered from "cardiac death."

Hospital officials decided after Burns awoke that her overdose might have caused her to go into an unresponsive state. They discharged Burns two weeks later, and authorities fined the hospital $6,000, according to reports.

American Academy of Neurology member Dr. Eelco Wijdicks called this type of case "exceedingly rare." He also reportedly said the Academy required doctors to call for about 25 tests to perform before stating a patient would not improve.

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