Woman Turned Away From Hospital Because Of Bed Bugs
The Denver Channel
Friday, May 27, 2011
AURORA, Colo. -- An Aurora
woman said she was turned away by a doctor for a pain injection
because her home is infested with bed bugs.
Christine Lewis was set for a spinal injection at the Medical
Center of Aurora South. She said everything was going fine until a
nurse asked her about the bug bites that covered her arms.
"I told her I had bed bug bites. They were bed bug bites," Lewis
Lewis said she was denied the injection and treatment. She said
her doctor showed her the door.
"He made the comment, he's like, it could be in your hair, it
could be in your clothes and we can't have you bring that into our
operating room," Lewis said.
7NEWS wanted to know if a bed bug infestation should stand in
the way of medical treatment.
Statewide, we found no protocol that called for turning patients
7NEWS discovered the doctor at the Medical Center of Aurora did
not follow protocol for Health One facilities, but Health One
stopped short of telling us what that protocol is.
So we checked with other health care providers, not involved
with Lewis' case.
"Would your health centers refuse treatment to someone who was
coming from a home infested with bed bugs?" we asked. "No," said
Peggy SaBelle, RN.
SaBelle is the Regional Infection Prevention and Control
Director for Kaiser Permanente Colorado. She said Kaiser
Permanente's protocol starts with the first sign of a bed bug.
Infection control is notified, and staff searches for parasites
and the patient who may be carrying them. Once the carrier is
found, they are isolated, counseled and treated.
The patient is advised to have a licensed pest control company
inspect and treat their home. If the home is still infested, the
patient is encouraged to store a set of clothes for medical
appointments in a sealed plastic bag. Those clothes should be
sealed immediately after they are washed and dried on high
If the patient refuses to comply, Kaiser Permanente staff is
advised to discuss home care services with the member.
Immediately after the patient leaves any surfaces they came in
contact with are cleaned. After hours, pest control is called in
"We have a very aggressive plan and it has been very effective,"
"How important was it to come up with this plan?" we asked.
"I think it was very important because this is going to be a
problem. If clinics and hospitals haven't seen it yet, they will,"