LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A Las Vegas woman says she could not find her brother, who failed to return home, in part because the hospital where paramedics took him after he collapsed gave him a fake name.
Clifford Allen, 60, died on July 27 at MountainView Hospital, the Clark County coroner’s office confirmed to Nexstar’s KLAS.
“I could have been there to hold his hand,” Allen’s sister, Lavonne Brubeck, told KLAS. “I could have called him by his name.”
Allen and Brubeck lived together in the northwest valley. She said he became her best friend and companion after her husband’s death more than 10 years ago.
“He went with me everywhere,” she said.
It was not odd for Allen to leave the house for several days, Brubeck said.
July 16 was different.
“He didn’t contact me,” Brubeck said about the days after. “I kept trying to call him and his phone would go to voicemail.”
After several days of silence, Brubeck, a retired nurse, became concerned. Her brother suffered from COPD, she said, and it was unlike him to not pick up his phone.
“I called every hospital in Las Vegas — every hospital,” she said. “I would ask for him by name and being in nursing I would say, ‘Do you have any John Does there?’”
John Doe and Jane Doe are the standard placeholder names for unidentified individuals.
By the time Brubeck found her brother, it was nearly the end of July. Clifford Allen was dead.
“I didn’t even get to hold his hand or even see him before he went to the coroner,” Brubeck said.
Finding out what happened to her brother would be an investigation of her own. Brubeck obtained her brother’s phone bill and called the last number on it. She would find out her brother collapsed in a retail area near West Lake Mead and Rainbow Boulevards sometime around July 21.
Several people told her that her brother lay there for eight hours.
“People saw him, and nobody responded to that,” Brubeck said. “It was 115 degrees that day and he was laying in full sun, and nobody called it in.”
Sometime during those eight hours, someone stole Allen’s wallet, identification and oxygen tank, Brubeck said. A clerk at a nearby store would later call paramedics when she realized the man, later identified as Allen, had not moved.
“They didn’t even leave him with a player’s card with his name on it – nothing,” Brubeck said.
With a body temperature of 106 degrees, EMTs brought Allen to MountainView, one of the many hospitals Brubeck called repeatedly.
“No John Does, no Clifford Allens,” she said, recounting her many calls. “’No,’ I can’t speak with administration. Everything was a ‘no.’”
Brubeck was asking the hospital for those two names. She later learned the hospital gave her brother a real name: Nolan Doe. It is MountainView’s policy to name the unidentified for records purposes, a hospital spokesperson told KLAS.
“Basically, he was in a coma, I guess, for the 10 days that he was there,” Brubeck said.
Allen would die alone in a hospital bed even though his sister did everything in her power to find him. In the end, it was the coroner who positively identified Allen from a picture a family member brought to the office nearly two weeks after he left home.
Brubeck also filed a missing person’s report with Las Vegas Metro police. At the time, police had no record of Allen because he had no ID. The report was filed on July 26, one day before Allen’s death.
A spokesperson for MountainView provided the following statement:
Anytime a patient has a poor outcome we are disheartened and have the utmost compassion for the family members impacted. We are sorry that anyone has to experience something like this.
While we can’t specifically comment on this case due to HIPAA, I can share our general policy. Per our policy, MountainView does not provide random callers information on unidentified patients because of HIPAA.
Per our policy, the hospital identifies anonymous patients with the last name of “Doe,” however assigns different first names to prevent the merging of medical records.
We work diligently behind the scenes to identify unnamed patients with our community partners. We work with our partners in the community to identify people who come in and when it is possible, connect patients to family.Jennifer McDonnell, spokesperson MountainView Hospital
A spokesperson for Las Vegas Metro Police provided this statement:
LVMPD Missing Persons Detail receives requests from our community partner hospitals on identifying Jane/John Doe patients committed to their care without any physical identification or the ability to identify themselves. Under circumstances where LVMPD believes the patient is related to an investigation, like an active missing person, the Missing Persons Detail will utilize investigative resources to assist with the identification of the patient.Officer Robert Wicks, LVMPD
Allen’s cause and manner of death remained pending as of Tuesday.
Three hospital organizations declined to comment on their policies.