79-year-old Judie Burrows, “star” of the documentary “Bleed Out”, passed away after fighting for her life for 11 years from what the medical examiner deemed as “complications of repeat hip surgeries.” “Bleed Out” documented Judie’s time at Aurora Healthcare in Milwaukee and all of the errors, mistreatment, and injustices that she endured during her fight to stay alive.
In 2009, Judie’s first hip surgery failed and left her with massive brain damage, giving her the cognitive abilities of 8-year-old and serious medical conditions that forced her to stay in the hospital instead of returning home. Her story inspired her son, Steve Burrows, who was a comedy director in Hollywood to return home and create a documentary on his mother’s medical errors that she faced during her time at the hospital.
Steve Burrows said in the documentary that his mother lost more than half of her blood in surgery, but no doctor visited or physically monitored her throughout the night in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Instead, they used a system of “remote video monitoring” that prevents the doctors from personally checking her vitals, her pain levels, and her overall health. The “greatest injustice” Judie faced was when her bladder stopped working due to the brain damage caused from the surgery, forcing her to live every day embarrassed because she had an unstable catheter strapped to her body.
Burrows brought his mother’s case to court and could not get justice for his mother but her story illuminated the horrors of the healthcare system and the apathy for patients. After the movie aired on HBO, Burrows was overwhelmed from thousands of Facebook messages that recounted stories extremely similar to his mother’s. Burrows put on about two dozen screenings of “Bleed Out” that included the Wisconsin State Capitol, the hospital rating organization, universities, and, most notably, the Patient Safety Movement Foundation’s annual conference where he will speak among former President Bill Clinton and former Vice President Joe Biden.
Judie’s story continues to educate and inspire families to speak out about the injustice that they face as victims of the healthcare system. Steve Burrows said, “She was born a teacher and died a teacher,” and some can even go to say that she died an inspiration.