(RNN) – An emergency room doctor who belittled a patient having an anxiety attack and accused him of wanting narcotics this week was suspended after video of the encounter spread on Facebook.
The video was posted on Tuesday by Donald Bardwell. He recorded his son, 20-year-old Samuel Bardwell, at El Camino Hospital in Los Gatos, CA, near San Jose.
It has since been viewed more than 4 million times.
After a number of contentious exchanges which include the emergency room doctor, Beth Keegstra, laughing at and sarcastically dismissing Samuel Bardwell as he explains what he’s experiencing, she asks, “So you need narcotics? That what you need?”
“Here we go,” Donald Bardwell says.
“Did I say I need narcotics? I just need a pain reliever and anxiety medication, because I’m in pain and I have anxiety,” Samuel Bardwell says.
The video begins with Bardwell explaining that he saw his son throwing up and going in and out of consciousness following basketball practice.
Keegstra, who according to a press release worked for a company contracted by the hospital, counters with skepticism.
“He is completely awake and alert right now,” she says.
Bardwell says he is worried that if his son leaves the hospital, he’ll have another attack. They explain that he had been unable to take Klonopin, a medication for seizures and panic attacks.
“I’m sorry sir you are the least sick of all the people who are here, who are dying,” Keegstra says.
She then tugs at him and insists he can get up, and argues with Samuel about what he is physically capable of.
When he tells her he cannot inhale, she laughs in disbelief.
“He can’t inhale, wow, he must be dead. Are you dead sir?” Keegstra asks sarcastically.
It ends with her accusing Samuel Bardwell of changing his story and using an expletive at him.
“This is how they treat black people in Los Gatos emergency room,” Donald Bardwell wrote in his Facebook post.
According to American Addiction Centers, withdrawal from Klonopin can induce nausea, anxiety and seizures.
In a follow-up Facebook post Donald Bardwell shared a note he had received which appeared to indicate he believed his son had experienced withdrawal symptoms.
He told the San Francisco Chronicle his son “had a prescription waiting for him at the pharmacy” for Klonopin, but hadn’t been able to pick it up for a number of days before the incident.
The Food and Drug Administration warns the medication “can cause abuse and dependence.”
He said Samuel Bardwell was taking Klonopin only “when he felt bad, not all the time.”
“That’s something we learned after we posted the video and people reached out to us, how bad this medication can be," he said.
Donald Bardwell told The Chronicle that Keegstra was accusatory from the start.
“She said, ‘I know why you people are here, you people who come here for drugs,’” Bardwell told the paper. “And I said, ‘What do you mean you people?’ … I guess she was so angry and assumed he was a druggie and had drugs in his system, she thought she could talk to us any which way she wanted.”
The hospital said in its release that a patient “had an interaction with a physician whose demeanor was unprofessional and not the standard we require of all who provide care through El Camino Hospital.”
The hospital said it had initiated an investigation and apologized to the Bardwells.
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