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Patient with fractured skull forced to wait 2 ½ hours for transfer to HCA Florida hospital

A patient with a fractured skull was reportedly made to wait nearly three hours for transfer to Hudson, Fla.-based Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point Feb. 15 after physicians at Medical Center of Trinity (Fla.) could not provide adequate care, according to ABC Action News.

Donnie Smith was playing softball Feb. 15 when a ball hit him in the head just before 8 p.m. Realizing the extent of his injuries, another teammate took Mr. Smith to Medical Center of Trinity, roughly two miles south of the ballpark.

According to Mr. Smith's family, physicians at Medical Center of Trinity diagnosed Mr. Smith as having fractured his skull and suffering brain bleeding around 8:20 p.m., and signed a transfer order to transport Mr. Smith to RMCBP around 9:15 p.m.

However, records obtained by ABC Action News reportedly indicated medical personnel at Trinity made the first call for an ambulance to transfer Mr. Smith at 10:21 p.m., roughly 2 ½ hours after the patient arrived at the facility. Records reportedly show staff originally called for a helicopter, but weather conditions prevented it from flying.

Mr. Smith arrived at RMCBP at 11:25 p.m., roughly four hours after the incident occured. A spokesperson for Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA Healthcare, which owns both hospitals, told ABC Action News officials cannot discuss individual patient cases, but noted a "number of factors come into play" when transferring patients between hospitals.

"While we can't discuss specific patient situations, there are a number of factors that come into play when transferring a patient from the scene of an accident or another hospital to a trauma center once the determination has been made that trauma services are needed. This includes identifying the nearest facility with expertise available to respond quickly, determining the most appropriate mode of transportation and stabilizing the patient for transport. All of these factors can change at any time and delay the transport process," the spokesperson said.

Mr. Smith's family told the publication Mr. Smith has since been released from the hospital, but claims he now suffers memory, speech and other problems because of the inadequate care. The family has also reportedly filed complaints with two state agencies, according to the report.

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