Doctor abandons patient, locks her inside office

Doctor abandons patient, locks her inside office

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by STUART WATSON / NewsChannel 36 Staff

Bio | Email | Follow: @stuartwcnc

WCNC.com

Posted on August 1, 2011 at 8:59 AM

Updated Monday, Aug 1 at 9:34 AM

ROCK HILL, S.C. -- Maybe you can relate to this—waiting in the doctor's examining room for so long that it seems like the staff has forgotten you.

In the case of Candida Miller of Rock Hill, S.C., the doctor did forget her.  The staff locked up the office and went home, leaving her patiently waiting inside an examining room.

Miller went to the Surgical Specialists of the Carolinas at 1721 Ebenezer Road in Rock Hill on Wednesday to consult with the doctors about gallstone surgery.

The nurse told her the doctor would be with her "in a minute."  Almost three hours later, not only had the doctor never arrived, the office was locked up and she was left alone inside.

"That's the awfullest feeling I had in my life," said Miller.  "I said ‘Lord, what am I going to do?  I'm locked up in here and I can't get out.’"

Miller did not have a cell phone and could not figure out how to operate the office phones. She says she didn't have a watch and there was no clock in the room, so she didn't realize that almost three hours had passed.

The woman said her appointment was at 4 p.m.  Her youngest son, Michael, escorted her from the waiting room to the examining room between 4:30-5 p.m.  But then Michael had to leave to pick up his kids at 5:30 p.m.  He expected a phone call but after 6 p.m. he had not heard anything.

When Michael arrived at the doctor's office, he found it locked up.

"I knocked on the window," he said. "I said, ‘Mom, are you in there?' and I heard a light voice say, ‘Yeah, I'm in here.’"

When Michael told his mom the building locked up, she panicked.

"I said maybe they might call the police thinking I'm coming in trying to rob them and they might come and do something to me,” Miller said.

As it turns out, Michael resisted the urge to break down the door and instead called the Rock Hill Police Department himself.  Miller eventually wheeled herself to the front door which she opened herself.

Novant Health released a statement saying, "We are sorry and deeply apologize to the patient and her family for this mistake and the anxiety they felt.  This is the first time something like this has happened in our practice."

Novant said the staff has put into place a new checklist to ensure the last person leaving the office checks off every patient.

Michael Miller said he was more than a little alarmed “cause that's our mom.  That's all we got."
 

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