The Bay Area’s El Camino Hospital in Los Gatos, Calif. has permanently suspended an emergency room physician who was filmed mocking and cursing at a patient who was brought in after suffering an anxiety attack early last week.
Video of the tense exchange between Dr. Beth Keegstra and patient Samuel Bardwell, 20, has been viewed more than 3.5 million times, drawing outrage from critics who demanded Keegstra’s immediate firing.
“This week, a patient who visited the emergency department at our Los Gatos campus had an interaction with a physician whose demeanor was unprofessional [and] not the standard we require of all who provide care through El Camino Hospital,” the hospital said in a news release last Thursday.
In an updated statement, the hospital confirmed its ” … contracted provider for emergency services, Vituity/California Emergency Physicians, has been notified to permanently remove this physician from the list of approved physicians assigned to provide emergency care at our hospitals.”
Bardwell was rushed to the emergency room Monday after suffering a severe panic attack after basketball practice, the San Francisco Gate reported. His dad, Donald Bardwell, said his son has a history of anxiety attacks and hadn’t taken his medicine, Klonopin, in a few days. The prescription drug is typically used to treat people who suffer from panic disorders, seizures and anxiety.
“He had a prescription waiting for him at the pharmacy but could not pick it up,” Bardwell told the newspaper. “He’s a student and he works … We didn’t know what the consequence of not taking the meds would be.”
Bardwell took his son to the hospital where they encountered Keegstra, who was tasked with treating the young man.
“She never first came in and introduced herself,” Bardwell recalled. “She never said her name, she never asked for his name, she never really examined him.”
The concerned father said he was prompted to pull out his phone and start recording after Keegstra accused him and his son, who she referred to as “…you people,” of coming in for drugs. In an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America”, Samuel said he noticed Keegstra speaking to a security guard in the emergency room before coming in to examine him.
“I knew from when she said something to the security guard,” Samual Bardell told GMA. “I already knew from that point … I said, ‘Please, dad, can you please take out your phone? I need you to take out your phone now cause I have a feeling something is gonna happen.”
His father later uploaded the clip to Facebook, where it went viral.
In the video, Bardwell is heard telling the doctor that Samuel had vomited and “was going in an out of consciousness” during the episode. Keegstra brushed off his concerns however, and insisted the young man was just fine.
“He’s completely awake and alert right now,” she said. “And he’s breathing just fine.”
Moments later, she tells Samuel he’s “the least sick of all the people” at the hospital and begins tugging at the young man’s arm, demanding that he sit up. When the young man explains that he’s unable to move and can’t inhale, Keegstra laughs and sarcastically proclaims, “Wow! He must be dead. Are you dead, sir?”
“I guess she was so angry and assumed he was a druggie and had drugs in his system, she thought she could talk to us any which way we wanted,” Bardwell told the San Francisco Gate.
In a statement, El Camino Hospital said it’s taking the matter “very seriously” and has since apologized to Bardwell and his son.
“Our number one priority is and always will be to serve our community with exceptional care and the utmost dignity and respect for all,” the statement read. “This matter is being immediately addressed at the highest level of our organization … Please be assured that this recent interaction is not reflective of the care and services our over 3,000 dedicated caregivers provide every single day.”