What Do You Think? –Teen ‘Escapes’ From Mayo Clinic

No doubt you've seen the headlines about the Minnesota teenager that "broke out of the hospital." The story has been widely reported, including video of her escape. If you're not familiar, here's the gist of it:

  • Alyssa Gilderhus was 18 years old on Christmas morning in 2016 when she suffered an aneurysm and had to undergo emergency surgery at the Mayo Clinic.
  • Her family got into conflict with the hospital about a month later, when her mother was banned from the hospital after getting into a heated confrontation with a doctor.
  • According to Alyssa’s family, she asked to be transferred to another hospital but doctors would not allow her to be discharged.
  • Eventually, her family helped her break out of the hospital.

The story is obviously complicated and the video is tough to watch.

So what do you think? Check out the video and details of the story and add your thoughts in the comments section below, including how as nurses and medical professionals we deal with complicated patient situations.

UPDATE: Mayo Clinic issued the following statement in response to a CNN story on parents removing their child from Mayo's care:

“Patient safety is always our highest priority, and it is at the forefront of the care we deliver to each patient. We are unwavering in our dedication to do what is best for every patient, every time. This patient’s case was no exception. This case was escalated to the highest level of leadership, and the care team worked with this family on a daily basis to listen to them and resolve their concerns. The same care, focus on her well-being and level of professionalism that this patient experienced during her life-saving surgery were also part of her post-surgery experience. This was a very complex situation with very challenging dynamics."

"Following a thorough and careful review of the care in question, we have determined that the version of events provided by certain patient family members to CNN are not supported by the facts nor do they track with the direct observations of numerous other providers on the patient’s care team. Our internal review determined that the care team’s actions were true to Mayo Clinic’s primary value that the patient’s needs come first. We acted in a manner that honored that value for this patient and that also took into account the safety and well-being of the team caring for the patient."

"This story lacks further clarification and context that CNN knew but chose not to use."

"While we will not discuss specific patients or their families, many who seek Mayo Clinic’s care can also be dealing with significant emotional and family dynamic complications which can be challenging in an already complex medical situation. We provided life-saving care for this patient and made decisions based on what we felt is best for the future of this patient.”



  1. Who says it’s inaccurate? Mayo ? The point is Alyssa was over 18 and Mayo admitted she was making decisions about her care but when she and her family requested a transfer — which is their right under the law — Mayo refused. Mayo did not have the right to either ban her family or try to have her declared incompetent. Obviously since they were unsuccessful in this. I will never make another donation to Mayo again if this is the way they do patient care.

    • You clearly have not read all the information. The mother has had all her children removed for abuse and neglect and has tested positive for methamphetamine. She was never refused the right to transfer, transfers need to be approved by insurance and can take time. This story by CNN has been proven to be completed biased and inaccurate by not only Mayo but other journalists.

      • Ahh. The story was done by CNN. Another example of questionable journalistic integrity from one of America’s facts-are-arbitrary (or incomplete) news sources.

  2. This is to ‘Will be unsubscribing’…that attitude is precisely what holds nursing and all healthcare back from Quantum Leadership. We should ALWAYS be willing to challenge our own measures of rigidity to what is best for each individual patient and family.

    I have listened to and watched MANY renderings of this story…My take: The truth usually lies somewhere in the middle.

    Having lost a father and spouse to cancer, I have been on the other side of dealing as a nurse of 38 years with healthcare professionals who could never go modern, think outside the box, and consider the individual. Thank God for people like Dr. Atul Gawande who had the courage to write Being Mortal. For a better perspective read The Nightingale Prescription. Florence Nightingale is the quintessential nurse who challenged the status quo!!!

  3. Shame on Modern Nurse for picking up a story with blatant inaccurate statements. As professional nurses, it’s important to support our fellow nurses. Modern Nurse picking up this story is disappointing – Modern Nurse has lost my respect. I hope the nurses and physicians involved in this case feel support from those around them.

  4. This story has been proven to be inaccurate reporting by CNN by Mayo. I would suggest you add other reporting done by other news outlets that are able to portray Mayo’s side of the story. Pretty shameful that this website is not providing both stories just to get clicks…

  5. Autonomy of the patient is part of the nursing code of ethics. Alyssa was an adult at the time she left the hospital and unless she was documented to be incompetent to make health care decisions she had every right to leave the hospital. Staff had no ethical, moral, or legal authority to prevent her leaving after informing her of the risks and benefits related to continuing care at that particular facility. Conversely, leaving against medical advice would absolve Mayo Clinic of any negative consequences associated with discontinuing medical care as deemed best by their staff.

  6. It’s dissapointing you’d take the time to report on a story that’s well known to be inaccurate. Shame on modern nurse magazine for perpetuating a false story that sheds a bad light on the nursing profession. Not to mention a for blatant disregard for the nurses involved. For a publication that’s supposed to support a profession, you accomplished the exact opposite!


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