Featured Image
Patient restrained in hospital bed.NoonVirachada /

SARASOTA, Florida – (LifeSiteNews) A Florida doctor who was hospitalized for COVID-19 claims that he was restrained in isolation and treated like a prisoner when he tried to get nursing staff to alert doctors to another COVID patient’s untreated pneumonia symptoms.

Dr. Stephen Guffanti said he was admitted to Sarasota Memorial Hospital August 2, after he had first developed COVID symptoms in late July. Guffanti, 70, is a retired physician who has worked as an emergency room physician, prison doctor and preventative medicine doctor.

He noticed that the patient next to him, a 51-year-old marathon runner, admitted the day after Guffanti was admitted, was getting worse while his own health was improving. The younger man’s breathing was impaired and Guffanti said he asked the runner if he wanted Guffanti to look at his medical chart.

“I could see that they missed the pneumonia. A first year resident would know it was bacterial pneumonia,” Guffanti told LifeSiteNews. He said he saw three blood tests showing increasing white blood cell counts and two X-ray reports indicating a worsening condition.

Guffanti said in a video interview with American Media Periscope that he asked the patient whose wife had died of cancer and who has three children if he wanted him to be his patient advocate. The unidentified patient agreed and Guffanti asked the nurses to call his doctor.

When the nurses refused to contact a doctor or to inform the patient of his doctor’s name, Guffanti said the patient agreed to have his picture posted on Facebook.

Patient at Sarasota Memorial, photographed by Dr. Guffanti

Guffanti said the nurses responded by telling him that they would be moving him to another room. Instead, he then asked to be released by signing an Against Medical Advice form—which would allow him to leave without being formally discharged by a doctor.

Guffanti told LifeSiteNews that hospital staff then physically restrained him in a hospital bed in an isolated room for four hours while they “decided what to do next.” He said that nurses laughed at him when he was forced to urinate in the bed while he was confined by four point restrictions. By mid- morning August 12, he said he was formally discharged.

At least six different nurses were involved and they were considering how to justify what they had done after they had done it, and not one of them said, “why don’t we just let him go home? This is a systemic problem.”

“The CEO of that hospital runs it like a prison and the patients are inmates,” Guffanti said.

“I’ve been a doctor for nearly 50 years and I can’t remember a time when the nursing staff was informed that a patient’s doctor needed to be notified and they refused to call or to even tell him who is doctor was.”

He said he has since joined a press conference at the hospital with others who are complaining to raise awareness about the situation. He told LifeSite Monday that he heard that the unnamed patient was treated with antibiotics and ventilated since. “His life is in their hands.”

Sarasota Memorial Hospital did not respond to a message from LifeSiteNews when contacted for comment.

A woman whose father is currently in the ICU in Sarasota Memorial Hospital told American Media Periscope that her family was taking legal action against the hospital.

Michelle Travares said her father went to the hospital with severe abdominal pain and tested positive for COVID-19 before any other diagnostics were done. Family members have been barred from seeing him since and staff has repeatedly “bullied and coerced” the family to allow him to be put on a ventilator, she said. When his wife refused to give permission to have her husband ventilated, a doctor hung up on her.

Travers said it is was one of her parents greatest fears to be hospitalized and separated from each other. “Imagining what he is going through right now without his partner by his side, I can’t even imagine the agony.”