Brain surgery patient's release prompts investigation

Brain surgery patient's release prompts investigation »Play Video
Brain surgery patient James Absten Sr. was dropped off, lost and disoriented, in a strange neighborhood in his socks and hospital gown on a cold, rainy night.
PUYALLUP, Wash. -- The state is now launching an investigation into the University of Washington Medical Center after the way a brain surgery patient was treated after his release.

James Absten had been at the UW Medical Center for a checkup after his most recent operation for a brain tumor a week before. When the appointment was over, Absten was given a cab voucher and he left.

"I was, I was confused," Absten said

Absten says he couldn’t remember his exact address, so he guessed. He ended up in a Puyallup neighborhood at 10:30 p.m.

"He was in the hospital gown, only socks. It was wet rainy and cold out," said a neighbor who found Absten.

Neighbors say Absten was disoriented, and they finally got him to his care facility which was just a few blocks away.

The state Health Department has now started an investigation, as has the UW Medical Center. A spokesperson at the hospital said it's a "highly structured process with the goal of determining where communications broke down so that we can prevent an incident like this from happening again. We apologize to the patient and his family. This is not the way we discharge our patients."

Absten's son says the family thought Absten would be transported in a specialized van, equipped to handle people with medical conditions -- the same way he got to the hospital.

"Just a little common sense and a little bit of care would go a long way," said Absten.

Tuesday, the UW Medical Center will hold an internal meeting to begin the process of what went wrong. Meanwhile, Absten's family filed a complaint and is now talking with the state Health Department.