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Entries in Hospital (39)

Monday
Jun032013

Awaiting Heart Transplant, Fla. Teen Celebrates Graduation from Hospital

Kelly Haberman(GAINESVILLE, Fla.) -- Taylor Haberman may not have gotten to dance at her high school prom or walk down the stage to accept her diploma at graduation, but thanks to the help of an adolescent palliative care organization, she was still able to celebrate those milestones from the Gainesville, Fla., hospital where she is awaiting a heart transplant.

Through a five-camera stream, the 18-year-old from St. Johns, Fla., accepted her diploma from the principal of Bartram Trail High School in real time and saw her peers graduate on Saturday afternoon, thanks to a live video feed that broadcast the graduation to the hospital's conference room.

Taylor's peers also got a glimpse of their fellow graduate thanks to one of her sisters, who used video calling on her iPad to "walk" Taylor across the stage and once she had graduated, held up the device with Taylor on the other end so the senior class could see her face.

The entire graduating class even wore hearts on their gowns to honor their classmate.

"She was ecstatic. Just like any other senior, she did it," Taylor's mother, Kelly Haberman told ABC News. "While it was nothing like being with your own graduating class, it was the next best thing."

Taylor has been waiting to receive a heart transplant for six months at University of Florida Health Shands Children's Hospital in Gainesville. She was born with congenital heart disease, her mother said. While Taylor had several corrective surgeries as a toddler, her condition worsened around the end of her junior year in high school.

"It was coming down to the last straw of what we could actually do for her," Haberman said. "[Being admitted] into the hospital was the last alternative."

Haberman said after months of treatments at home at the start of her senior year, Taylor was admitted to the hospital in January in hopes of getting a heart transplant.

"In order for [Taylor] to be pretty high on the transplant list, she needed to be in-patient," she said. "As far as organ donors, she could wait for years and years if she sat at home."

Haberman said adjusting to hospital life was a difficult transition for her daughter, especially because she realized she would have to miss out on the pivotal events that often characterize a teenager's high school experience.

"You look forward to your senior year, that's when all the fun is," Haberman said. "It was a huge transition for her. She's leaving all her friends, she's missing everything."

But thanks to Streetlight, a non-profit peer support group organization that partners pre-med students with young adults in the hospital, Taylor was able to still enjoy those events, albeit from within the hospital.

"When she couldn't go to the prom, they threw a prom there for her and brought the prom to her," Haberman said. "We were hoping that [her doctors] were going to let her out of the hospital for the day to attend graduation."

But when clearances fell through, Streetlight director Rebecca Brown told ABC News that the organization began to think of ways to help make Taylor's graduation just as meaningful as her prom had been.

"She really wanted the heart before her graduation. We were hopeful it would come in, but it didn't," Brown said. "So we started thinking about how we could do this."

Brown said Taylor told her she wanted her graduation live-streamed into the hospital so she could watch it, as well as accept her diploma virtually.

"Streetlight and Bartram [Trail High School] stepped in and made it all happen yesterday," Haberman said. "I'm blessed that everybody has made it as much of a senior year as possible."

Taylor's family as well as members of the Streetlight team gathered in the hospital's conference room Saturday to watch and participate in her high school graduation, which went off without a hitch.

"We were all there screaming and cheering for her in the room we had set up and decorated for her graduation," Brown said. "We had a really big party after the actual graduation. The room didn't clear out until 7:30 p.m."

As Taylor waits to be taken off the transplant list, her mother said she plans to take online classes to stay busy. She eventually wants to study nursing at the University of Florida in Gainesville, her mother said. For a graduation present, she's asked for a trip to New York City as soon as she's out of the hospital, Haberman said.

"At this point, it's just a waiting game," Haberman said. "We're waiting for that call to come in."

Copyright 2013 ABC NewsRadio

Thursday
May302013

Connecticut Woman Gives Birth at Home, Alone

Creatas/Thinkstock(SOUTHINGTON, Conn.) -- If Erica Bovino of Southington, Conn., is still trying to recall the exact details of the birth of her second child, daughter, Stella, three weeks ago, it is easy to understand why.

Bovino, 34, delivered Stella at home, in her bathroom, with no one else in the house besides Stella’s older brother, 3-year-old Jack, who slept through the whole thing.

“I didn’t call anyone because I figured I had plenty of time,” Bovino, a speech pathologist, said of the day, May 6, when she realized she was going into labor.

Bovino had been in labor with Jack for 30 hours, so based on the many labor and delivery books she had read, she anticipated at least a 15-hour labor with her second child.

Instead, Bovino felt her water break less than five hours after that first contraction. Her first step was to call her husband, Paul Sulzicki, also 34, and a police officer, to tell him to get home quickly from his overnight shift.

“I realized there was no way I was going to be able to get to a hospital in time,” Bovino said, throwing away the couple’s plan to drive the 30 minutes to Yale-New Haven Hospital and deliver naturally with a midwife, as she had done with Jack.

“All my instincts kicked in,” she said. “I went into a primal mode.”

Luckily for Bovino, a natural birth advocate, she had done her research during her pregnancy on delivering without the aid of medicine or, in her extreme case, without the aid of anyone else.

“I didn’t know what position she was in and I knew I had to get on my hands and knees,” she said.  “Then something told me to go into the bathroom and squat.”

“I remember just trying to squat and I said, ‘Come on baby, come on baby,’” she said. “I put all my effort into opening and getting her out. I was like I have to get her out. It’s life and death.”

At 5:35 a.m., Bovino lifted out of herself a healthy six pound and three ounces baby named Stella Jane Bovino Sulzicki.

When Stella first came out, her eyes were closed, giving Bovino a momentary scare. Then, as soon as Sulzicki made it home and ran into the bathroom, mother and father saw their newborn daughter’s eyes for the first time.

“All of a sudden she opened her big eyes and that’s the moment my husband walked in,” Bovino said. “He calmly took us to the bed and I started nursing immediately and he called 911 and called my midwife.”

Paramedics arrived shortly and after determining that both mom and baby were fine, granted Bovino’s request that she continue nursing her in bed to bond with Stella, and also allow time to introduce Stella to her big brother, who had slept through her entire birth.

“My husband went into his room and said, “Do you want to come into mommy and daddy’s room, mommy’s had the baby,” Bovino said.  “He [Jack] was just all smiles.”

Bovino was then taken to the hospital with Stella for an overnight stay, just as any new mom would do.  She says the doctors there were impressed with what she had accomplished.

“People have babies at home but they don’t do it completely alone,” she said. “It’s very rare. I’m still processing the whole thing. With lack of sleep and everything, it’s hard to remember exactly what happened.”

What Bovino does know for sure is that she wants to use her accidental home birth as a message for other moms.

“I want to be an inspiration to other women to empower them to trust themselves and their instincts,” she said. “Hospitals are there, and they’re wonderful in emergencies, but a lot of times women don’t trust themselves and their bodies that they’re able to do it.”

“I trusted my body and the process,” Bovino said. “I tried to stay as focused and looking inward as I could and not let any fear come over me.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Jan202013

Texas Woman's Legs, Fingers Amputated After Dog Bite

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(AUSTIN, Texas) -- A Texas woman is in the intensive care unit at an Austin hospital after doctors were forced to amputate her legs and fingers after a dog bite infected her with rare bacteria.

Robin Sullins, a dog lover and mother of four, was bitten while intervening in a scuffle between two family dogs on Christmas day, suffering minor cuts on her hand and leg. She was treated at a local emergency room after becoming violently ill, then transferred to University Medical Center Brackenridge on Dec. 28 as her condition rapidly deteriorated.

Capnocytophaga canimorsus, the bacteria that infected Sullins is found in the mouths of nearly a third of all healthy cats and dogs, and doctors say it is not normally dangerous.

But Sullins' case of the infection was so severe, doctors needed to amputate both of her legs below the knees, and all of her fingers except her thumb.

"What's clearly happened here is that the bacteria has gotten into the bloodstream," Dr. William Schaffner, infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University Medical Center told ABC News. "Once into the blood stream it has created sepsis, a serious infection which has an effect on all the body’s regulatory and inflammatory mechanisms."

Schaffner said the sepsis caused the blood vessels in her legs and hands to close down and clot, necessitating the amputation. He also added that such a severe reaction is more common in people with an underlying illness or some sort of immune deficiency.

"Both of her legs had turned black below the knees," Robin's mother Carol Wilson told ABC News. "Her body was literally dying, her extremities were dying, it's like a horror movie -- I can't put it into words."

Robin's family is rallying to her side during this difficult time.

"Everybody is devastated, we are probably more devastated than she even is because she's got the spirit," Wilson said. "Everybody is standing by her. She has not been by herself for one minute."

"We feel very confident that not only will she walk again with prosthesis, but she is going to make the most of what she has."

Dr. Kristen Mondy, who is treating Sullins, said the prognosis for her recovery is fair.

"She is still in a tremendous amount of pain, she is still on dialysis, and I think she is potentially facing some more surgeries on her extremities. The prognosis is still favorable for her kidney function to recover," Mondy said.

Mondy also said that usually with amputations, it normally takes weeks to months before the amputated area is sufficiently healed to support prosthesis.

The family has started a website, www.robinsullins.com for Sullins to raise money to cover her medical expenses and update the public on her progress. Wilson also said her daughter wanted to raise awareness for bite treatments.

"She says, 'I don't want it to happen to anybody else.' She wants the word out that if you do get a bite of any kind -- go to the doctor, get an antibiotic, get it checked out," Wilson said.

There are also precautions pet owners can take to help guard against a potential bacterial infection from a bite.

"Do daily oral care, get an animal toothbrush or edible toothbrush, followed by a regular professional cleaning as needed," said Marty Becker, a veterinarian at North Idaho Animal Hospital. "Most people let their pets lick and kiss them. By taking better care of a pet’s oral health you are taking care of the human's health by extension."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Dec202012

Surgeons Still Make Preventable Mistakes

Image Courtesy The Turkewitz Law Firm(NEW YORK) -- There are certain mistakes that should never happen to you during surgery.  The surgeon should never accidentally leave a sponge in your body after he sews you up, perform surgery on the wrong part of your body, or perform the entirely wrong surgery on you.

These mistakes are known as “never events” because the medical community has agreed there is no legitimate reason for their ever happening.  But new research finds that they still do occur at unacceptable rates, costing the healthcare system millions of dollars each year.

Using the National Practitioner Data Bank, an electronic warehouse of medical malpractice claims, researchers at John Hopkins University estimated the number of times that “never events” occurred within the past 20 years.  They found that there were close to 10,000 reported instances when a foreign object was left in a patient, the wrong surgery was performed, or the surgery was performed on the wrong patient or wrong part of the body.  These surgeries cost the healthcare industry an estimated $1.3 billion in malpractice payments over that same time period.

“It’s a rare event but it’s still an event that is entirely preventable,” said Dr. Martin Makary, the lead investigator of the study published this week in the journal Surgery.

He and his team believe these figures underestimate the actual number of errors that occur, since prior studies have shown that most patients don’t file medical claims when a mistake is made.  Although the annual number of reported “never events” is on the decline, Makary and his team believe that even a single preventable error is one too many.

“There have been a lot of efforts over the past several years to make significant changes in patient care,” said Dr. Sonali Desai, ambulatory medical director for patient safety at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.  She lists the creation of surgical safety checklists, improvements in communication and team training, and the development of better technology as key steps in ensuring that patients are safer.

“Surgeons are the captain of the ship, but it’s a team effort,” said Dr. Jeffrey Port, a cardiothoracic surgeon at New York Presbyterian-Weill Cornell who invented a product that uses radio-frequency technology to confirm that a patient’s body is 100 percent sponge-free.

Mandatory safety procedures prior to the start of surgery were a nuisance at first, but over time proved valuable at ensuring patient safety, according to Port.

“I don’t think we’ll ever see zero [errors], but we can get very close,” he said.

The study is not without its limitations, according to Dr. Desai, who points out that evaluating claims data through the National Practitioner Data Bank is only the tip of the iceberg.  Hospital-based safety reporting systems keep track of not only medical malpractice claims, but also those medical errors that never make it into the legal system.  This individualized hospital data may be more comprehensive, but it is also more difficult to aggregate and analyze on a national scale.

Makary acknowledges that the data sets are not perfect, and can only provide a rough estimate of the amount of preventable medical errors made every year, but the study serves to highlight the need for more accurate record keeping.

“Healthcare is operated by good people, but they’re still human,” he said.  “The better able we are to remove errors from the system, the safer healthcare can be for everybody.”

Check out your hospital’s error rate at http://www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec072012

Elf on the Shelf Gives Children’s Hospital Patients a Christmas Treat

Le Bonheur Children's Hospital(MEMPHIS, Tenn.) -- There are no Dancers or Prancers or Comets or Vixens, no partridges in a pear tree or even nutcrackers dancing when you’re sick in the hospital at Christmastime.

For the young patients at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., however, there is a Betsy Bojangles, an Elfvis, a Bonnie and a Jingle Bell Jimmy in their midst.

They are not nurses or strangely-named doctors but Elves on the Shelf who have come to the well-known children’s hospital to spread Christmas cheer.

The Elf on the Shelf is, of course, a Christmas tradition born from one Georgia family’s annual ritual: The Elf came from the North Pole, appeared in a different spot each day and then flew home to the North Pole nightly to report back to Santa. It’s now part of millions of families’ Christmas each year around the world.

When Linda Hill, a longtime volunteer at Le Bonheur, had the idea to use the Elf to help spread Christmas cheer in the hospital, the Marietta, Ga., company that sells the $29.95 Elves and accompanying book, jumped at the opportunity.

“We are inspired by the work they do with children,” a spokesperson for the family-owned company told ABC News.  “We were delighted to be able to partner with them.  The people who work with sick children are nearest and dearest to our hearts.”

And just like that, in a bit of Christmas magic, last week 15 Elves -- one for each of the hospital’s 12 floors plus one for the family house, the same-day surgery facility and the hospital as a whole -- arrived with Elf dust from the North Pole.

Ever since, the Elves’ daily arrival from the North Pole, always in a different location on each floor, has been captivating patients like Kylie, a five-year-old in the hospital for a neurological operation.

“I met her as she was getting ready to go in for a surgical procedure, and she would have nothing to do with me,” Jessica Kellough, one of the hospital’s child life specialists, told ABC News.  “When I mentioned that our Elf had arrived that morning, she turned and looked at me and her eyes got really big and [it was the] first time I got a response from her. The only thing she wanted to do or talk about was finding the Elf.”

After surgery, according to Kellough, Kylie was placed on bed rest so her nurse brought the Elf magic to her in the form of a letter the Elf sent to her from the North Pole.  From then on, Kylie insisted the letter lay next to her always in bed.

“It’s a huge motivator for her and it got her mind off her surgery,” Kellough said, noting the nurses and therapists are also using the Elves with patients who are being rehabilitated, to get them up and moving in search of the Elves around the hospital.

“They all have them at home so they’re excited to know that the Elves haven’t forgotten them now that they’re at the hospital,” she said.

Elf on the Shelf has partnered with children’s hospitals in the past, according to the company spokesman, but this is the first time the Elves have made their way from the North Pole to Le Bonheur.

Le Bonheur, which treats nearly 250,000 kids from across the country with all different ailments every year, is known for its innovative practices to keep patients stimulated -- earlier this year the building’s window washers dressed as real-life superheroes -- and says they hope, like so many families, to make the Elf on the Shelf one of the hospital’s annual traditions.

“Sometimes when you’re at the hospital, especially around Christmas, some of the magic seems lost,” Kellough said.  “This year something seems different.  Elf has brought back some of that magic this year. It’s just been inspiring to see the power the Elf has had here.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Dec042012

Superhero Window Washers Swoop into Wisconsin Children’s Hospital

Carla David/Ministry Health(STANLEY, Wis.) -- The young patients of Ministry St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital got a big surprise Monday as Spider-Man, Batman, and Captain America all appeared to swoop down from the sky, right outside their windows.

What they were witnessing was not a comic come to life, but a kind collaboration between Brite-Way window cleaning service and some workers at Ministry St. Joseph’s.

“We got the idea from a hospital in Pittsburgh,” secretary of environmental services Julie Schafer told ABC News. “Brite-Way has been doing our windows for years and we reached out to them, and they were happy to do it.”

Tim Taggart, a supervisor at Brite-Way/Tim’s Maintenance, spent the day dressed as Batman and said he really got to play the part.

“We did some flips down the building and a lot of turns and stuff.  You can do just about anything while attached to the rigging,” Taggart told ABC News. “The kids really seemed to like it and that made it all worth it.”

Taggart said he and his crew repelled from the roof, down to an outdoor patio area where thrilled children waited to greet their favorite superheroes.

Since not all of the children were able to make it out to the spectacle, the superheroes made a trip inside to greet them. One of those children was Lakken Burzynski.

“Lakken isn’t really into superheroes,” Lakken’s mother, Katie Burzynski, told ABC News, “but she really thought it was neat.”

At home now in Stanley, Wisc., Lakken had been at St. Joseph’s since Friday. Katie said the window washers weren’t allowed into Lakken’s room, so they chatted with her using FaceTime on an iPad.

“Then they came to her window and waved hello, it was really something neat and different,” Burzynski said.

According to Schafer, the hospital and window washing company agree this is something they should do again.

“We’d like to do it every year, now. And hopefully this is something Brite-Way can do at all the hospitals they serve. The kids really deserve it.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct312012

New York's Bellevue Hospital Set to Evacuate After Sandy

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- New York City's Bellevue Hospital and its remaining 700 patients have struggled along in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, with failing power, partially lighted halls and no computers, making it difficult to locate patients within the facility, hospital staff told ABC News on Wednesday.

When Sandy hit the New York area Monday night, Bellevue almost lost its generators.  At least one got repaired just in time to stave off an evacuation, but it's been a struggle to keep the hospital going.  Now, an evacuation is expected, making Bellevue the second of the city's public hospitals to be taken off line because of precarious and failing conditions that could endanger patient health.

"It's Katrina-esque in there," one nurse told ABC News.

Bellevue is perhaps the best known of the 11 hospitals that make up New York City's public hospital system.  On Tuesday, another of those hospitals, Coney Island Hospital, at the tip of Brooklyn, was evacuated.  Although one of its generators was still puttering along, another had long been underwater, and officials were reluctant to leave patients in such precarious conditions.

Lights out, computers down and long walks up and down dark stairwells and hallways to treat patients -- these are the conditions doctors, nurses, aides and staff face at Bellevue, as well as at Metropolitan Hospital, another city hospital that is running on backup generator power.

For two days, the Bellevue staff and the city have been poised for an eventual full evacuation, and that time now seems to have come, along with another quest for beds.

A spokesman at Mount Sinai Medical Center told ABC News that when it could no longer reach anyone at Bellevue, it sent a medical team of eight to Bellevue.  When the group arrived, two cardiac physicians told the Mount Sinai team they had two very serious patients that needed help.

Both of these patients will be moved to Mount Sinai, which is preparing for more patients.

On Wednesday, Bellevue nurses could be seen walking up and down stairs with food trays and medicine.  Some had to hike to the 17th floor, where some patients have "serious conditions."

Up and down the stairs, the evacuation of patients was under way.  But many patients still remain at Bellevue, according to city officials and hospital staff.

Police are stationed throughout Bellevue, and are limiting visitors' access to the main lobby entrance unless they are there to see family members.

The hospital is no longer admitting patients.

New York City's other major hospital evacuation this week happened Monday night at New York University Langone Medical Center.  A stream of ambulances evacuated patients from the hospital after backup generators failed following a power outage, city officials said.

NYU Langone Medical Center spokesman Christopher Rucas told ABC News on Tuesday that more than 300 patients had been safely moved out of the hospital and transferred to surrounding institutions.  Dozens of these were critical care patients, city officials said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct292012

Push for ‘Ouchless’ Emergency Rooms for Kids

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Parents, your next trip to the hospital emergency room may be a little less painful, thanks to a new report by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The report authors reviewed nearly 250 medical studies to provide guidance on how to reduce pain and stress for babies and kids in the emergency room.

“We’ve gotten a lot better at managing kids’ pain,” said author Dr. Joel Fein, an emergency room doctor at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and professor of pediatrics and emergency medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.  “We need to do everything we can.”

Fein had three good reasons to improve ER visits for kids: his three sons.

“I want my child to have the best experience possible without being fearful of the medical system,” he said.

The report, published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, outlines simple ways to reduce pain and stress in emergency rooms, including the use of pain pills and numbing creams in the waiting room.  It also recommends distracting kids with bubbles and sugar pacifiers during painful tests.

Letting a family member stick around can also have a calming effect, according to the report.

“Although there is no evidence that family presence decreases pain, their presence for procedures can decrease child distress,” Fein and colleagues wrote in their report.

While pain management in adults has come a long way, Fein said pain control in children -- particularly babies -- lags far behind.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct042012

Surgeons Report Progress Against Dangerous Hospital Infection

Pixland/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- Surgeons have found a new treatment that may help put a stubborn hospital-acquired infection on the run.

Hospitalized patients are at risk for developing healthcare-related infections, and one of the most dreaded is Clostridium difficile colitis, a virulent bacteria that affects about 336,000 patients per year, causing diarrhea, fevers, and occasionally sepsis and death.  It is easily passed around the hospital, especially since it is one of very few bacteria that cannot be killed by the alcohol-based sanitizers that are fixtures in every hospital for hand hygiene.

There has never been any medical treatment available to prevent this infection.  But in findings presented Thursday at the 2012 Annual American College of Surgeons Clinical Congress in Chicago, surgeons report success using a medicine called intestinal alkaline phosphate (IAP) to prevent C. difficile infections in tests on mice.

“According to the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention], C. difficile is linked to about 14,000 U.S. deaths every year,” says Dr. Richard Hodin, a surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital and the principal investigator of the study.  “Estimates are that we spend at least $1 billion in extra costs to the health care system due to C. difficile, and probably a lot more.”

The bacteria may live naturally in the colon and is kept in check by the rest of the natural, “good bacteria” in the gut.  But occasionally, when patients are given antibiotics, may of the “good bacteria” get killed off and the C. difficile takes over, causing symptoms like diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain and colitis.  While antibiotics typically can treat the bacteria, an unrecognized infection may progress to a dangerous disease called toxic megacolon that requires emergency surgery and a removal of the entire colon.

“The paradox is that it is caused by antibiotics, but antibiotics don’t always work to cure it,” says Dr. Angela Moss, a surgery resident at Massachusetts General Hospital and one of the co-authors on the study.  “Then it becomes a life-threatening problem.”

Unfortunately, because C. diff may be lying dormant in any person’s colon, almost every patient on antibiotics can be at risk for C. difficile colitis.  Researchers therefore have been searching for a way to prevent this infection before it starts.

In the study, Hodin and colleagues found that giving IAP to mice on antibiotics resulted in a 10-fold decrease in C. difficile bacteria in their stool, as well as a 10-fold decrease in an inflammatory marker called IL-1.

“We were surprised to find that this naturally occurring enzyme was a regulator of the gut flora,” says Hodin.  “If this works in humans, like it does in mice, then we think it could be used as an oral supplement in almost all patients who are taking antibiotics.”

Fortunately, IAP is a naturally occurring gut enzyme, so it is likely completely safe to take.  A previous study using IAP in patients showed no side effects.  Researchers are hopeful that clinical trials in humans can soon begin, allowing progress to be made on preventing this dangerous infection.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Aug162012

Mount Sinai Hospital Sued for Sex Discrimination

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A fired hospital technician claims she was the victim of sexist and anti-Semitic taunts while working at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.

Sandra Morris, 37, has sued the Manhattan medical center and two of her former supervisors for creating a hostile work environment, according to a lawsuit filed July 31 in the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan.

"Miss Morris experienced mistreatment in the workplace that no employee should have to experience," said Morris' lawyer, Steven Warshawsky. "She's bringing this lawsuit to vindicate her legal rights and to ensure other employees are not subjected to same type of misconduct."

Morris worked as a cardiovascular perfusionist at Mount Sinai for nearly five years, during which times she claims her supervisors, cardiovascular perfusionist Ahmed Cercioglu and cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Ricardo Lazala, discriminated against her because of her gender and religion.

According to the suit, Morris "was told several times by Mr. Lazala and Mr. Cercioglu that she cannot work on [some] cases because she doesn't have a 'dick.'" And in July 2010, Cercioglu allegedly called Morris a "dumb Jew bitch" in front of other employees.

"Many of the incidents and issues alleged in the complaint were witnessed by other employees," said Warshawsky, adding that "several" co-workers would be called as witnesses in the case.

The suit also accuses Cercioglu of watching X-rated movies on his cell phone while operating the heart-lung machine – a pump that keeps heart patients alive during bypass surgery.

"This was so commonplace that other perfusionists routinely joked about his behavior," according to the suit.

Calls to Cercioglu and Lazala were not immediately returned. A spokesman for Mount Sinai declined to comment on the allegations because of the pending litigation, but said in a statement that the hospital "maintains strong policies prohibiting discrimination and harassment in the workplace and does not tolerate behavior that violates these policies. Mount Sinai is confident that Ms. Morris will not prevail on her claims."

Morris also claims she was paid less than what she was owed for overtime work, and is requesting back pay, compensatory damages for emotional pain and suffering and attorney's fees. She is not challenging the hospital's decision to terminate her employment, which came as no surprise after six months of unpaid leave for an on-the-job injury, according to Warshawsky.

"That's not the issue in this case," he said. "The issue is workplace mistreatment and mismanagement."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio