On Christmas Day in 2016, Alyssa Gilderhus suffered a brain aneurysm and was rushed to the world famous Mayo Clinic for emergency surgery.
Alyssa pulled through despite a diagnosed 2% chance of survival, but that wasn’t the end of her troubles. About a month later, after repeated conflicts with doctors and nurses, Amber Gilderhus, Alyssa’s mother, was banned from the hospital.
Alyssa’s parents were reportedly shocked when doctors began to wean her off oxycodone days after her final surgery. They also said, “Alyssa’s feeding tube was the wrong size, and that doctors failed to discover she was suffering from a bladder infection.”
These disagreements resulted in Alyssa’s mother asking that four people be removed from her daughter’s care team: “a social worker, a nurse, and two doctors.”
The situation took a turn on February 22 when Amber arrived at her daughter’s hospital room to find an unknown doctor talking with a nurse in the doorway. When he saw her approaching, he reportedly “shut the door in her face.”
Alyssa Gilderhus says neurosurgeons at the Mayo Clinic saved her life. Why then did she escape months later, as part of an event security initially deemed "a patient abduction"? https://t.co/jxZlqutnFX pic.twitter.com/bREHDmVGmf— CNN Newsroom (@CNNnewsroom) August 13, 2018
Amber listened through the door to confirm they were speaking about her daughter before entering, saying:
I proceeded to open the door and say, ‘Since you’re talking about my family, I think it’s only appropriate that I would be here also, to be included in the conversation.’
Amber said the doctor, whom she had never met before, stepped towards her intimidatingly and said:
I run this whole rehab unit. Do you understand me?
I need to talk to you. Do you understand me?
The doctor later returned with three security guards and told Amber she would no longer be welcome on Mayo Clinic property, and would not have any say in Alyssa’s care.
It is almost never a good idea to refuse a transfer request. And if seeking guardianship for anything other than life-threatening reasons you may have lost perspective. And when no institutional advocate for patient and patient's perspective in a setting of conflict, danger— Constance (@jconstance61) August 16, 2018
With her mother banned, Alyssa made repeated requests to be transferred to a different hospital, but the Mayo Clinic refused, saying she didn’t have the “mental capacity” to make her own decisions. At that point, the clinic also began seeking legal guardianship of Alyssa, taking all power away from her parents and allowing them to hold her as long as they thought was necessary.
@MayoClinic Just saw the story on Alyssa Gilderhus, all I can say is despicable, and you need a major review of that rehabilitation unit, their training on patient rights, and plain review of common sense.— barry allen (@logicalStream) August 13, 2018
Meanwhile, Alyssa’s family formed a plan to break her out. On February 28, her stepfather arrived and said her great-grandmother had come to visit but was too weak to leave the car. With two nurses in tow, Alyssa was wheeled down to a waiting car, where her mother helped her climb in. As nurses tried to stop them, the car took off.
Alyssa was reported abducted by the Mayo Clinic and police chased the family as they tried to find a hospital outside the Mayo network. After 12 hours, they reached the Sanford Medical Center in Sioux Falls, where doctors said Alyssa “was healthy enough to go home and had the mental capacity to make her own medical decisions.”
My opinion on the @MayoClinic has completely changed. As a researcher in the biological sciences, I will be looking at the way data was collected in any journal articles from Mayo before citing due to the unethical treatment of Alyssa Gilderhus.— Jacob of the Ginter (@glossycow) August 13, 2018
Upon hearing that news, police called off their search. The Mayo Clinic has issued a statement, saying:
We will not address these questionable allegations or publicly share the facts of this complex situation, because we do not believe it’s in the best interest of the patient and the family. … Our internal review determined that the care team’s actions were true to Mayo Clinic’s primary value that the patient’s needs come first. We acted in a manner that honored that value for the patient and that also took into account the safety and well-being of the team caring for the patient.
I find it disturbing you saw nothing wrong wrong with anything you did. Fact: Alyssa Gilderhus is of legal age and can make her own decisions. Fact: She tried to leave and staff members tried to restrain her from doing so. Fact: The Police said you were wrong.— Stephanie ? (@truegirl81) August 13, 2018
Experts are thoroughly confused by the Mayo Clinic’s decision to seek legal guardianship of Alyssa. Richard S. Saver, a professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law, has never seen anything like it
It’s thought of as kind of the atom bomb remedy. I’m a little flummoxed what to make of this. They had family members on the scene to look to.
It is also a hospital that is not TODAY, respecting a patient's and family's rights with Alyssa Gilderhus, their behavior is criminal in spite of the quality of their doctors and staff. #MayoCriminals— Sergio M. Bustamante (@finnerss) August 14, 2018
George Annas, director of the Center for Health Law, Ethics & Human Rights at the Boston University School of Public Health, told CNN:
Hospitals aren’t prisons. They can’t hold you there against your will.
The Gilderhus family has retained a lawyer but, as of yet, no charges have been filed. Alyssa is now recovering at her home, walking without aid and speaking on her own. Her parents remain grateful to the surgeons who saved her life.
"Alyssa Gilderhus with her parents months after they helped her escape from the Mayo Clinic." pic.twitter.com/Dotq3gR0Sm— Boudreaux's Daddy (@Cannibal_Sauce) August 13, 2018