Edgar Torres-Rangel Case and Patient Death Raise Questions About Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville now has not but one two black eyes, first with the Edgar Torres-Rangel escape and now a patient dying unnecessarily.

As The Tennessee Star reported, Torres-Rangel, an alleged illegal immigrant, drove drunk and killed a woman in Bedford County in late October.

Tennessee Highway Patrol officers worked that crash.

Torres-Rangel sustained injuries of his own, and authorities transported him to Vanderbilt. He later walked out of the hospital without anyone notifying authorities.

His present whereabouts are unknown.

As reported, THP officials blame Vanderbilt for not notifying them of Torres-Rangel’s release.

Vanderbilt spokeswoman John Howser told The Star Friday that the hospital is responsible for caring for patients despite the circumstances prior to their admission.

“In instances where someone may have committed a criminal act we do not assume legal custody of offenders as this is the responsibility of law enforcement agencies who have jurisdiction to place or hold individuals under arrest, even in the hospital setting,” Howser said in an emailed statement.

“By now, most area law enforcement agencies are aware that as a health care provider VUMC does not hold patients under arrest and understand that they bear the responsibility for offender custody. We do our best to work collaboratively with local and state agencies on these matters but the ultimate responsibility for legal custody resides with the arresting agency.”

But the hospital has had another public relations setback, this one unrelated to the Torres-Rangel case.

According to News Channel 5 out of Nashville, a Vanderbilt nurse administered a paralyzing anesthetic to a patient by mistake.

“According to a report conducted by CMS, the patient checked into the hospital with a subdural hematoma and vision loss,” the station reported.

“The patient was sent to the hospital’s radiology department for a full body scan. When the patient told caregivers they were claustrophobic, a doctor prescribed Versed, a standard anti-anxiety sedative.”

The patient instead received vecuronium. Vecuronium, the station reported, is a neuromuscular blocking drug that causes paralysis.

“As such, the CMS report says it can also stop the body from being able to breathe, in a painful experience for patients, who remain conscious and aware.”

The patient later died, according to the station.

Howser said hospital staff has worked closely with the Tennessee Department of Health to address patient safety. Hospital staff have also worked with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

“After submitting our plan of corrective action we were informed yesterday by both the TDH and the CMS the plan has been accepted,” Howser said.

The next step in the process is for a representative of TDH to return and validate that our plan of correction has been appropriately implemented. This step will occur before December 9.”

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Vanderbilt University Medical Center” by Vanderbilt University Medical Center. 

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  1. […] The Tennessee Star reported last year, a Vanderbilt nurse administered a paralyzing anesthetic to a patient by […]