Patient assumed dead awakes as doctors prepare to harvest her organs

Patient assumed dead awakes as doctors prepare to harvest her organs

Doctors at St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center were about to remove organs for transplant from a woman they thought was dead.

Then she opened her eyes. She was alive.

The state Health Department found St. Joe’s care of patient Colleen S. Burns in 2009 unacceptable and a federal agency criticized the hospital for not properly investigating the cause. The hospital’s mishandling of the case was part of the reason the state Health Department fined St. Joe’s $22,000 last September — the largest fine levied against a Central New York hospital since 2002.

St. Joe’s was fined $6,000 over the Burns case and $16,000 for leaving a patient unattended before she fell and injured her head in 2011.

The state could not find a case similar to the Burns case after reviewing the past 10 years of inspection records, a spokesman said.

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