Woman in Tulsa Rehab Put in Straightjacket, Drugged, Left Naked, Dies

A 66-year-old woman admitted to a Tulsa care facility for rehabilitation after cancer treatment was kept in a straitjacket for more than 10 hours, giving medications typically used to treat schizophrenia and left naked in her hospital bed before she died of an “apparent heart attack” 10 days after she was admitted.

A startling report in the Tulsa World should make people very cautious about the doctors and health care facilities they turn to for themselves and their loved ones. According to the World, the woman attempted to call the sheriff, an ambulance and an attorney during the 10 days between her admittance and her death.

The facility is the Continuous Care Center of Tulsa, which occupies the 4th floor of St. John Medical Center. The doctor in charge of the woman’s treatment, Kenneth Kirk, had previously had his medical license revoked, then reinstated on probation, then suspended again, and then probation again with a requirement of drug testing.

The woman was diagnosed with throat cancer in February 2012, but she did not have a terminal prognosis, according to the report. After receiving intensive radiation, she required a feeding tube. She was admitted to the care center to undergo rehabilitation, with the goal to regain her ability to walk and swallow.

The doctor put the woman on a liquid diet, although one medical expert says patients with dysphagia (difficulty swallowing) should not be given liquids orally due to risk of choking.

The World article says there about 6300 doctors in Oklahoma with active medical licenses, and 149 currently practicing who have been disciplined since 2000 by the Oklahoma State Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision. Those statistics would indicate that 98% of doctors practicing in Oklahoma today have not received any kind of disciplinary action since 2000.

If you have a loved one in a health care facility, do not ignore signs of neglect or abuse. Does your loved one complain about the treatment he or she is receiving? Have you witnessed visible signs of mistreatment? Do you know which doctors are overseeing treatment? Have you checked the doctors’ licensing and disciplinary action on the state Medical Board website? Do you know how the care facility is rated?

If you need assistance in evaluating possible neglect or abuse, contact our office for a free consultation.