LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A Las Vegas woman has been unable to locate her brother, who has not returned home, in part because the hospital where paramedics took him after his collapse gave him a false name.
Clifford Allen, 60, died at MountainView Hospital on July 27, the Clark County Medical Examiner confirmed to 8 News Now Investigators.
“I could have been there to hold his hand,” Allen’s sister, Lavonne Brubeck, said. “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 a decade ago.
“He went with me everywhere,” she said.
It’s not uncommon for Allen to leave the house for several days, Brubeck said.
July 16 was different.
“He didn’t get in touch with me,” Brubeck said of the days that followed. “I kept trying to call him but his phone switched to voicemail.”
After several days of silence, Brubeck, a retired nurse, became concerned. Her brother has COPD, she said, and is unlike him not to pick up the phone.
“I called every hospital in Las Vegas — every hospital,” she said. “I asked his name and since I was in nursing I said, ‘Do you have John Does there?'”
John Doe and Jane Doe are the default placeholder names for unidentified people.
It was almost the end of July when Brubeck found her brother. Clifford Allen was dead.
“I couldn’t even 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 its own. Brubeck got her brother’s phone bill and called the last number on it. She would find out that her brother had collapsed sometime around July 21 in a retail neighborhood near West Lake Mead and Rainbow Boulevard.
Several people told her that her brother lay there for eight hours.
“People saw it and nobody reacted to it,” Brubeck said. “It was 115 degrees that day and it was in full sun and nobody reported it.”
At some point during those eight hours, someone stole Allen’s wallet, ID and oxygen tank, Brubeck said. A clerk at a nearby store later called paramedics when she realized the man, later identified as Allen, had not moved.
“They didn’t even leave him a player card with his name on it — nothing,” Brubeck said.
With a body temperature of 106 degrees, emergency workers took Allen to MountainView, one of the many hospitals Brubeck kept calling.
“Eventually they said we didn’t have a Clifford Allens and we didn’t have a John Does,” 8 News Now investigator David Charns told Brubeck.
“No John Does, no Clifford Allens,” she said. “‘No’, I can’t speak to the administration. Everything was a ‘no’.”
Brubeck asked the hospital for those two names. She later learned that the hospital gave her brother a real name: Nolan Doe. It is MountainView’s policy to release the names of those unidentified for record-keeping purposes, a hospital spokesman told 8 News Now Investigators.
“Essentially, he was in a coma for the 10 days he was there,” Brubeck said.
Allen would die alone in a hospital bed, although his sister did everything in her power to find him. In the end, it was the coroner who positively identified Allen from a photograph that a family member brought to the office nearly two weeks after he left the home.
Brubeck also filed a missing persons report with the Las Vegas Metro Police Department. At the time, police had no record of Allen as he had no ID. The report was filed on July 26, the day before Allen’s death.
A spokesman for MountainView issued the following statement:
Whenever a patient is unwell, we are discouraged and have the utmost compassion for the affected family members. We are sorry that someone has to experience something like this.
While we can’t comment specifically on this case due to HIPAA, I can share our general guidelines with you. In accordance with our policy, MountainView does not provide random caller information on unidentified patients due to HIPAA.
As per our policy, the hospital identifies anonymous patients with the last name “Doe” but assigns different first names to prevent medical record merging.
We’re working diligently behind the scenes to identify unnamed patients with our community partners. We are working with our community partners to identify the individuals who come to us and, where possible, connect patients to their families.
Jennifer McDonnell, spokeswoman for MountainView Hospital
A Metro Police spokesman issued the following statement:
LVMPD Missing Persons Detail is receiving requests from our partner hospitals in the community to identify Jane/John Doe patients who are committed to their care without physical identification or the ability to identify themselves. In circumstances where LVMPD believes the patient is related to an investigation, such as an actively missing person, the Missing Persons Unit will use investigative resources to help identify the patient.
Officer Robert Wicks, LVMPD
Allen’s cause of death and manner of death were still unclear as of Tuesday.
Three hospital organizations declined to comment on the policy.