Pine Bluff Woman Returns from Hospital; Wakes Up with Medical Device Stuck in Arm

A Pine Bluff woman says a nurse at Jefferson Regional Medical Center discharged her while there was still a device in her right arm.

Lakreshia McCombs woke up Monday morning with what she believed to be a needle lodged in her right arm. Several nurses who watched our original story about McCombs believe it was actually a catheter or cannula, which they say would still be a major mistake.

McCombs went to the hospital Sunday night for what she thought was the flu but was later diagnosed with a kidney infection. Nurses also injected McCombs with potassium and fluids because she was dehydrated.

McCombs woke up this morning, and a medical device was still inside her arm. She tells Channel 7 that when her mother called J-R-M-C she was told that their had been an "overlook," but was not given further instruction.

McCombs says she feels fine, and when we last spoke to her she was returning to the hospital to have the device removed.

Shortly before our six o'clock broadcast a spokesman with Jefferson Regional Medical Center issued this statement:

"Jefferson Regional Medical Center cannot discuss a patient's confidential health information. We take every patient complaint seriously and work to resolve any issue in a timely manner.

As a means of providing some generalized information, we provide the following.

Certain patients presenting to the emergency department have a latex sheath inserted in order to administer medications and fluids intravenously. Although a disposable needle is utilized to insert the latex sheath, a needle is not left in the vein. Saline and heparin locks are peripheral short IV lines, which represents one of the fastest ways to deliver fluids and medications, thus making the drug available to the body instantly. Both controlling and maintaining drug levels is considerably easier with intravenous administration. This type of administration is useful if the drug would be destroyed by digestive enzymes and/or poorly absorbed or painful to administer through intramuscular (into a muscle) or subcutaneous (directly under the skin) injection. When not administering fluids or medications, the sheath or access line is "locked" off, until treatment is complete, no longer needed and finally removed.

As part of the discharge process, a physical assessment of the patient is conducted to ensure items such as a saline or hep-lock is removed. In addition, a nurse and/or physician will provide detailed discharge instructions where care for the IV access site is discussed, along with other important medical instructions. Frequently, patients will get fully dressed after fluids and medications have been administered, but before the sheath is removed. Thus in rare instances the saline/hep-lock is not visible to the physician/nurse due to clothing and unfortunately not removed prior to leaving the emergency room. In such rare instances, patients will return to the ER where the sheath is safely removed. Risk of infection or serious complication of bacterium is low."