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Lawsuit accuses Arnold Palmer Hospital of boy’s death

Seven years after Spencer Beckstead died in hospital’s care, his father is still seeking justice

Photo: PHOTOS COURTESY OF JOHN BECKSTEAD, License: N/A

PHOTOS COURTESY OF JOHN BECKSTEAD

Photo: , License: N/A


In court documents, Beckstead’s reputation is dragged through the mud – his past drug and alcohol use, his employment history and employment status, among other things, are questioned. “I couldn’t care less how they try to discredit me,” he says. “I’ve been dealing with this crap for almost 15 years.

And, you know, what I was before, before you are told that your child has three months to live, and what you become after, are two different people.”

Beckstead, for the record, has high expectations of people, and at times, he challenged the care doctors and nurses were giving to his son. In family medical situations, being a strong advocate for a patient can sometimes be all that stands between treatment and neglect. So Beckstead decided to be an advocate. Perhaps, he says, he was too aggressive an advocate for his son – because his advocacy will continue to haunt him even after his case is settled. Particularly since his perspective, as a parent, now has to go up against that of his physicians, who clearly don’t feel directly responsible for Spencer’s death.

“Spencer was stable at the time and had been, as we have already outlined, for the past month,” Farrell insists in her deposition. “His final demise occurred on the 7th of September. And if he had been discharged and this happened at home, am I still responsible for his care?

“I know that looking at it three years later and sitting here, that I would never be able to change the course of events and would have changed anything that would have affected Spencer’s outcome, and neither would any of my colleagues. … None of us could have done anything to save him.”

And perhaps that is the case – it is possible that nobody could have fixed the problem that killed Spencer. But it’s the following line in Farrell’s deposition that Beckstead particularly disagrees with:

“Spencer died on Sept. the 7th, I was not responsible in any way for his death.”

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