MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG) — A Tennessee woman is still hoping for help after a hospital “mix-up” last year resulted in the death of her husband.
Twanda Taylor is still grieving the loss of her husband of 22 years, Kenneth Taylor after he went to the hospital to be treated for COVID-19 but was mistaken for another patient with the same name.
“And this shouldn’t have happened,” Twanda said. “This is unreal — like a dream.”
Twanda said she is no closer to getting answers about his health care at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) in Jackson, Mississippi, than she was when News 2’s Memphis sister station, WREG, first spoke with her almost a year ago.
“I haven’t heard back from them since I got the apology letter that they were sorry, and sending their condolences and stuff for his death,” Twanda said.
Twanda’s husband entered UMMC in August 2021 with COVID, but she said things went downhill shortly after he arrived.
“He was crying,” Twanda said. “He said, “Babe, I’m not gonna make it. So they have me confused with someone else down here. There must be two of us. Because they’re telling me I don’t know my birthday and I don’t know my name. And when I tell them to call my family, they start giving me medicine and I don’t wake up.'”
Twanda said she learned later on that there was another “Kenneth Taylor” in the UMMC computer system. That Kenneth Taylor and his wife Rebecca said they started getting calls and enormous bills from UMMC and that he was the one in the hospital.
“They called us about a hospital bill. And we’re trying to figure out what was going on,” Rebecca said. “We told them that, you know, we’ve never been in the hospital.”
The wives said that the hospital had the two Kenneth Taylors confused. After Twanda’s husband died, she said she wonders if the treatment he received caused his health to fail.
According to Twanda, all she got from UMMC was a letter of condolences saying her husband had no medical reaction to the medicine they gave him and he died from an infection in his lungs.
“You can’t prove that by me — because you were giving him medicines that belong to someone else,” Twanda said. “I want them to pay for the pain and suffering.”
WREG reached out to UMMC and was told they cannot comment on patient cases. Twanda said she can’t even get help from a lawyer.
“I have talked to three different lawyers and three of their responses was the bill that [Mississippi Governor] Tate Reeves have in place,” said Twanda.
She said the lawyers wouldn’t take the case because of a Mississippi law signed by Gov. Tate Reeves in 2020, which provides protection for health care providers.
Senate Bill 3049 created the Mississippi “Back to Business Liability Assurance and Health Care Emergency Response Liability Protection Act,” giving healthcare providers and facilities immunity from lawsuits and liability if they provide care during a state of emergency like COVID-19. The immunity includes injury or death resulting from screening, assessing, diagnosing, or treating persons in relation to COVID.
“I think that that law should be thrown out the window because this did not — this was not — a COVID case here,” Twanda said. “My husband had COVID. Yes, but the doctor said upon his death he did not have COVID.”
This law extended until one year after the end of COVID-19’s outbreak, meaning it may be null and void now. But when Twanda’s husband died, it was at the height of this being in effect.
Mississippi State Rep. Dana Criswell, who voted on the bill, said “the intent was to protect employers not to hurt patients and citizens” and that the bill in its original form was targeted toward businesses.
“Their concern was if an employee gets COVID-19, are they liable for their employee getting COVID because they were trying to bring employees back,” Criswell said. “And the bill was written originally to cover those businesses and say, ‘If you’re doing everything that you can to protect your employees, then you’re not liable if your employee gets COVID.”
He said looking through the bill, there were a few things added that many lawmakers may not have been aware of.
“I would almost call it abuse of the individuals and their patients: [for providers to] tell them that they are covered from all liability. That is not at all what the legislature intended to do.”
Criswell even said other lawmakers have told him the bill may be worth revisiting.
“Their comment was, ‘Well, if what you’re saying is true, next year we need some legislation to make sure that we can see if we can undo that.'”
According to Twanda, this gives her hope.
“I would love to get justice for my husband,” she said.