Tiny tidbit on Benjamin DiChristina tells us a lot!

“State police said a forensic chemist was also involved in the investigation but it’s not yet clear why.”


So what happened at the ER? Was he given drugs?  Since an actual crime was committed, can’t they subpoena the hospital records before the hospital personnel fudges them?

This is what happens in a community hospital ER. You go sign in, get your vitals taken, then you wait with other patients with all sorts of medical problems in a waiting room. You might sit there three hours or more. Don’t worry, there’s a TV to watch. Maybe even a soda machine. You will see people coming in on crutches, old people with god-knows-what disease, and kids with scrapes and bruises.

When you are finally seen they take you into a room. Usually those rooms are separated by curtains and there’s one curtain you can use to close the entrance off. You might want to do that because they’re going to make you change into a “gown.” No, not a prom gown.

Then you wait maybe an hour. This is why it’s a good idea to have something to read or have your cell charged up so you can call your boss…”I’m sorry, I’ve had a medical emergency and might not make it to work tomorrow.” Or, possibly, call your buddy and say, “I’ve been here three hours now and they have barely asked me what the problem is.” Or, “I think this was a mistake.” Your cell may, or may not work in the ER since those places tend to be on the ground floor of a huge building.

Now what? A nurse comes in and asks you questions. Just the basics pretty much. This point of contact is crucial because she’s going to size you up based on first impression. She may have very little training, or a lot.

If you’re a frequent flyer they’ve sized you up years (or decades) ago. You don’t stand a chance of getting their impression of you to change.

After that, you might wait about two hours to see a physician. Or you might not see one at all for the entire ER visit. Some people are lucky to be seen by a PA.

You might get a social worker who will spend a little more time with you. She’s there to figure out if you’re suicidal. She’s listening for keywords basically. One that I know about is “I don’t care.” Don’t say that. Don’t use the words “dead,” “death,” or “kill” in a sentence, even if it’s irrelevant or off-handed. Even if you’re talking about the murder mystery you’ve been reading. Be careful, since they may not really be listening to what you’re saying but only filtering for keywords.

If you do not have a known psych diagnosis, they’re not likely to send a social worker at all. They might do a brief “depression screening” which takes only a few minutes and without a dx on record you’re likely to pass even if you’re in the pits of the pits.

Total average time in an ER (if you’re sent away) will be six hours. Maybe that’s how long the DiChristinas spent in the ER with Ben.

Did the ER personnel spend time alone with Ben, or did they allow the parents to stay in there with him and continue to prompt him during the interview? Yes, this happens frequently! I have seen it! It happens to grown adults as well as to kids. Why can’t a mental patient be interviewed without the added bias of the parents? Because MPs are considered too incompetent to speak for themselves.

If the parents took him to the ER, then they wanted him in, probably. If “day treatment” was recommended, then this means one of the following:

1. They didn’t want to deal with Ben, so they got rid of him by telling him about this “great” program he should go to. This gets the family out faster.

2. They couldn’t find a bed for him on a psych ward so they proclaimed him sane enough to do outpatient.

3. They found that insurance might not cover. So they pronounced him sane  enough and altered whatever prior diagnosis they had to excuse them from letting him out.

4. They knew they couldn’t keep him inpatient because doing so would be too inconvenient. Or they feared that Ben was so dangerous they couldn’t put him on a psych ward. (I saw that in 2011 in an ER!). So they figured they’d medicate him until he got to the day treatment program. They gave him a shot of Haldol and sent him along his way. Uh oh….

You see the picture? This IS what happens in emergency rooms! Expect six hours of mostly sitting in a room. They just leave you there while you wait forever. When they discharge you the nurse will give you paperwork. The doctor has likely spent less than five minutes with you. If you have questions upon release there’s no doctor around.

You’re lucky if they show you where the exit is. Why is that? This has happened to me repeatedly. They say, “Okay, you can go now.” I might see three exit signs in three different directions and no one even bothers to tell me which one if the real exit. I guess since nurses are there all the time they figure other people know the way out just as well as they do. They also never told me how to get to the bus stop from the ER, or how to get to the front entrance. I had to ask anyone I could grab.

If you came without money or your wallet they might give you a cab voucher, but don’t count on it. I’ve even seen hospitals keep people because they didn’t have a ride home. Why? Liability. They realize they can’t just release you to the streets or the freezing cold winter because if they do you might die of hypothermia and then, they’d be blamed. So they find some excuse, some invented medical problem, to keep you there. Agreeably this is rare but I have seen it.

Which hospital did the diChristinas go to? Locally, to the one in Concord? I know that one, or knew it. Or did they go to McLean? Some families don’t know where to go so they show up at McLean without realizing they have other options.

The media isn’t likely to tell us. The hospital, whichever one it was, is in big trouble right now and they are likely scrambling to cover their asses.

If I were investigating I would want to know every detail of what happened in that ER, HIPAA or no HIPAA. A crime has been committed and someone is likely to die as a result. Why shouldn’t the law protect the victims, that is, the parents, the girlfriend, and Ben, instead of protecting the hospitals?




Feedback and comments welcome!