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Patient left dying in chair for 22 hours while staff played cards and watched TV

By Chris V. Thangham     Aug 20, 2008 in Crime
At a North Carolina private hospital, a man was left in a chair for 22 hours without food. He later choked on medication, and the nurses didn’t attend to him, as they were playing cards and watching television.
Cherry Hospital in Goldsboro near Raleigh, North Carolina, is a private hospital funded by the federal government.
Steven Sabock, a 50-year-old mental patient, was given medication but he choked immediately after consuming it. The attending nurses failed to take care of him for the next 22 hours. Surveillance video showed the hospital staff watching television and playing cards just a few feet away from Sabock.
The staff didn’t feed him or helped him use the bathroom during this period.
The Department of Health and Human Services sent a team to investigate the incident. Their report said Sabock was left in a sitting position, unattended, in the room for nearly four work shifts. They also found he didn’t eat anything the day he died and had little food in the three days preceding his death.
The local North Carolina government also sent a team to investigate. Depending on the investigation, federal officials might cut the funding to the hospital.
Tom Lawrence, a spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services, told AP:
"It's not the kind of thing that we in our wildest dreams would expect to happen in our hospitals -- in our wildest nightmares, I guess."
There was another incident at the same hospital in the past; a physician punched a patient after the teen patient bit the doctor. It was not clear from the report how serious the injury was.
Neither Sabock's father nor his wife commented on the incident.
The state has until Aug. 23 to file a report with the Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services detailing what changes officials are implementing. If the Center rejects that report, then the federal funds will be cut off later this year.
This follows another incident, when a patient was left dying, unattended for 24 hours. The security video showed the woman had seizures, but neither the staff nor the people nearby helped her.
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