Emergency Room Malpractice Lawsuits Filed Over Deaths from Delays

Three hospital malpractice lawsuits have been filed recently against facilities who allegedly failed to treat patients in a timely manner, contributing to the deaths of one adult woman and two newborns.

Two of the lawsuits were filed against University Medical Center (UMC) in Las Vegas by women who claim that the hospital failed to treat them while they were in labor, resulting in the deaths of their newborn children. A third emergency room lawsuit was filed in late November against San Mateo County, California by the daughter of a woman who says her mother was left to die in a county-run hospital waiting room.

Latricia Richard and Roshunda Abney have both filed lawsuits claiming that University Medical Center violated the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act.

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Richard, who was 22 weeks pregnant, went to the hospital on December 8 and told staff she was suffering from labor pains. She was attached to a fetal monitor, given a sleeping pill and then sent home. She alleges that she was never seen by a doctor. A few hours later her regular doctor sent her back to the hospital in an ambulance. She delivered her baby in the ambulance and the newborn died.

Abney claims that medical staff at both UMC and Valley Hospital, also in Las Vegas, ignored her when she went to their emergency rooms, complaining of stomach pains. Abney went home and allegedly gave birth to a premature baby which died shortly after being born.

UMC officials released a press release saying that the claims made against them by Latricia Richard are “completely false” and that they cannot discuss details of the case due to patient privacy laws. However, the hospital has not commented on the Abney lawsuit, and reportedly has suspended six hospital staff members as a result.

The California wrongful death lawsuit was filed by Nicole Blincoe on November 17, accusing San Mateo County of negligence that contributed to the death of Penny Louise Prevezich in 2008. Prevezich was found dead at about midnight on November 29, 2008, after allegedly being left unattended in the San Mateo Medical Center waiting room for about 90 minutes.

Prevezich, 57, was a patient at a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs-run mental health facility in Menlo Park and was taken to the medical center while awaiting transfer to another facility. The lawsuit says that the county’s Mental Health Assessment and Referral Team dropped her off at the medical center and a nurse seated her. However, no one else checked on Prevezich for an hour and a half, according to the lawsuit. She was found slouched over, not breathing and with no pulse. According to a report in the San Jose Mercury News, the county coroner’s office listed her cause of death as multiple drug intoxication.

The recent deaths are the latest in a number of emergency room deaths where patients were allegedly left unattended. In late May, New York City agreed to settle an emergency room death wrongful death lawsuit for $2 million. The lawsuit was brought by a family of Esmin Green, who died on an emergency room floor after being left unattended for 24 hours. The case received national attention after a video surfaced of Kings County Hospital Center staff stepping over Green as she lay dying.

In November, a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine indicated that problems with delays in emergency room treatment are worsening across the country. Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, found that the number of patients being seen in a timely manner is decreasing by about 0.8 percent per year, with just over 75% of patients being seen within a safe time frame. The researchers said the worsening problem could cost lives.

Experts have recommended a number of emergency room changes that hospitals can make to decrease wait times, including:

  • Condensing the number of questions asked by triage nurses, and having those nurses assign the patient to their next nurse.
  • Having patients see the doctor and nurse at the same time after passing through triage, instead of one after the other.
  • Equip emergency rooms with bedside supplies that address the most common reasons for emergency room visits.
  • Have information such as patient identification and insurance collected at bedside, once the patient is already being seen.
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3 Comments

  • PamelaOctober 9, 2016 at 9:03 pm

    On November 30, 2014 my daughter Kenya Clark was admitted into UMC ICU With apparent fatigue. She was mentally challenged, so I had to speak for her. In the next couple of weeks mistakes were made. Either through failed procedures, or wrong medications, she paid the ultimate price, Kenya Clark died of infection's you can only acquire in a Hospital. No one in UMC ICU ever consulted with me about th[Show More]On November 30, 2014 my daughter Kenya Clark was admitted into UMC ICU With apparent fatigue. She was mentally challenged, so I had to speak for her. In the next couple of weeks mistakes were made. Either through failed procedures, or wrong medications, she paid the ultimate price, Kenya Clark died of infection's you can only acquire in a Hospital. No one in UMC ICU ever consulted with me about the treatment of my daughter. She was diagnosed with kidney failure..., Sepsis..., and gangrene... After she passed away, I spoke with an attorney, who dumped me 18 days before the statues ran out on my lawsuit against the Hospital. My lawsuit was dismissed in the district court, because I can't find a attorney nor a doctor to help with the affidavit needed to expose the truth about my daughter's death. I will Appeal this case, and not let my 14th amendment rights be violated, and maybe change the way Hospitals and doctors seem to think they can make mistakes and then hide behind the NRS for protection. The truth must be told to prevent any further mistakes to unknowing patients. Don't doctors as well as lawyers have a Code of Ethics.....

  • SonnyJune 14, 2010 at 11:27 am

    My girl friend was taken to umc in las vegas on april 16th 2010at 8:45am by ambulance . By 11:00 am she was being released while she was throwing up through the halls . They said nothing aside from she had som broken bones. They did no cat scans on her to see what was going on inside of her. After about 2 hours once we were home we had to call another ambulance to come get her to take her to anot[Show More]My girl friend was taken to umc in las vegas on april 16th 2010at 8:45am by ambulance . By 11:00 am she was being released while she was throwing up through the halls . They said nothing aside from she had som broken bones. They did no cat scans on her to see what was going on inside of her. After about 2 hours once we were home we had to call another ambulance to come get her to take her to another nearby emergency room . After they did a catscan they found that her intestines had ruptured and the contents had spilled out of them , for the past few hours, wow great hospital right, umc , . She was sent back to umc at 9:00pm for emergency surgery. After 3 days of being there she developed a fever that wouldnt go away and the doctors couldnt figure out why. Not one doctor the entire week looked at her wound. Myself and her mother kept telling them it was probably her wound . Lets see they changed her bandages once a day instead of two to three times like they should have. Not to mention the ac in the room didnt work for most of the first week after 3 different techs couldnt figure it out . On the seventh day one more tried and he got it working but the room temp was about 60 degrees and couldnt adjust it, they told us they had to wait till she wasnt there anymore to fix it . On the 11th day they discovered her wound was infected and they decided to put a wound vac on her . Wow what idiots. She was then given antibotics to fight the infection for another three days . Why not start her on antibiotics from the time her fever showed up? Isnt that what most parents d for their child? Since she was released her surgeon who told her on her releasedate that he will be her primary doctor and will be the one putting her back together, has blown off every apointment every week for the past 6 weeks . And on top of everything she has ulceritive colitis and is now having a flare up and guess what they wont see her or talk to her to help.

  • miaApril 6, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    I WNET TO MUNROE HOSPITAL IN OCALA FL. ON THE 5TH OF APRIL,2010 AND WAITED OVER AN HOUR BEFORE I LEFT. THE WAITING ROOM WAS 10 HOURS BEHIND AND 35 PAITIENTS WERE STILL WAITING TO BE SEEN BY A DR. I WENT TO THE E.R. BECAUSE I HAD AN EMERGENCY, I HAVE CANCER AND BELIEVED THAT I HAD A RUPTURED INTESTIN. I WAS TOLD THAT IT WOULD BE AWHILE,LOL, BEFORE I WOULD BE SEEN AND COULD NOT EVEN GET AN X-RAY TA[Show More]I WNET TO MUNROE HOSPITAL IN OCALA FL. ON THE 5TH OF APRIL,2010 AND WAITED OVER AN HOUR BEFORE I LEFT. THE WAITING ROOM WAS 10 HOURS BEHIND AND 35 PAITIENTS WERE STILL WAITING TO BE SEEN BY A DR. I WENT TO THE E.R. BECAUSE I HAD AN EMERGENCY, I HAVE CANCER AND BELIEVED THAT I HAD A RUPTURED INTESTIN. I WAS TOLD THAT IT WOULD BE AWHILE,LOL, BEFORE I WOULD BE SEEN AND COULD NOT EVEN GET AN X-RAY TAKEN TO SE WHAT DAMAGE WAS THERE. I WILL NOT USE MUNROE AGAIN ESPECIALLI IF MY LIFE DEPENDS ON IT. THINK ABOUT THIS, WHERE WERE THE DR'S WHO WERE SUPPOSED TO BE TREATING PAITIENTS? A DAY AFTER EASTER MUST HAVE BEEN LIKE RECESS FOR THEM. I CALLED OCAL REGIONAL FROM MUNROE AND WAS TOLD BY THE E.R. ROOM THAT THEY COULD NOT TELL ME HOW MANY PATIENTS WERE WAITING TO BE SEEN, SO WHY WOULD I GO THERE? I BELIEVE IN GOD AND MY FAITH TELLS ME HE WILL DO WHATS BEST FOR ME. I AM IN PAIN AND STILL HAVE NOT SEEN A DR. GOD HEALS TOO.

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