Disturbing video footage shows a man crawling out of a hospital in Canada after doctors assumed he was “faking” his intense leg pain.
David Pontone, 45, is seen on all fours dragging himself out of Toronto’s Humber River Hospital following his premature discharge — because staffers dismissed his problem as being psychological, according to CBC News.
“They thought I was faking it because I was bipolar,” Pontone told CBC of the April 2018 incident. The surveillance footage has only just been released after the news broadcaster obtained it.
“There are no words to describe what I went through that night.”
While checking into the hospital, Pontone — who was later diagnosed with a rare nerve disorder — told staffers that he takes medication for bipolar disorder but has been stable for seven years.
But revealing his mental health history prompted a doctor to order an MRI and refer him to an on-call psychiatrist, CBC News reported.
Despite Pontone complaining about being in agonizing physical pain, the psychiatrist wrote that “anxiety” was his most dominant symptom, according to medical records obtained by the Canadian broadcaster.
Another note in hospital records states Pontone’s visit was due to his “bipolar” and fails to even mention his trouble walking.
When the MRI didn’t reveal any unusual results, a psychiatrist then discharged Pontone — forcing him to crawl out of the hospital on his hands and knees.
“The pain was unbearable,” said Pontone. “To be able to walk properly was impossible.”
At points in the newly-obtained footage, Pontone is shown struggling on the ground as a nurse stands next to him.
“The nurse kept saying, ‘You’re a big boy! You’re strong! Come on, big boy, stand up!’” said Pontone. “I was angry. I felt totally helpless.”
It took Pontone about 20 minutes to reach the exit and a security guard then helped him into a taxi.
An ambulance later took him to Toronto Western Hospital, where a neurologist diagnosed him with Guillain-Barré Syndrome, a disorder in which a person’s immune system attacks their nerves.
Medical workers often overlook serious physical health problems in people with mental illness, experts told the outlet.
“We are failing this population miserably,” said Dr. Vicky Stergiopoulos, psychiatrist and physician-in-chief at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto. “[The system] is flawed and we need to do a better job at seeing people as human beings.”
Toronto’s Humber River Hospital chief nursing executive Vanessa Burkoski later apologized, Pontone’s family told the outlet.
Hospital spokesman Joe Gorman sent a statement saying the hospital is “deeply troubled” by the incident and that staffers involved “were dealt with accordingly.”