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Hospital negligence: A cause of homicide?

Deviations from standard care in a medical facility could be defined as negligence. When a 30-year-old man came to an emergency room, he claimed he had a skin rash. As such, he waited over eight hours for medical attention.

By the time someone checked on him, he was dead.

Surveillance cameras in the hospital revealed the man showed mobility after his name was called, but one spokesperson for the facility stated there is no official rule to apply in this case. The mother of the man issued a statement that such treatment in a hospital was offensive and inappropriate. Family members lamented her son was more than just a name on a clipboard and more than just a number. His death will be added to the stack of mysteries surrounding mistakes taking place in emergency rooms like this one.

Hospital personnel say they are unsure about why the man ended up cold and blue in his chair. While an autopsy will be forthcoming, the public and personal outcry may cease, and the news may be stale by the time the results are made known. Someone will write a report, and it may even be published, but a man with a lot of life ahead of him will never know that life and his family may remain mystified by his cause of death.

In a similar case in Illinois, a woman presented at a Waukegan emergency room with symptoms of a heart attack. She was not considered an emergency, and the triage nurse told her to wait. When she was summoned two hours later, nurses found her dead in her chair.

A coroner's jury had a ruling here vastly different from the case of the 30-year-old. One doctor claimed this woman's death was precipitated on a massive deviation from the standard of care expected at a hospital emergency room, and was a homicide.

In other words, the woman's death was caused by gross negligence, similar to leaving a child or pet in a vehicle in over 100 degree heat, while a parent shopped.

Doctors and medical staff should know better, but sometimes they don't. If you live in the state of Illinois and have experienced a missed diagnosis or substandard care, you have rights. It is in your best interests to investigate what these rights are so you can be protected under the law.

Source:  The Durango Herald, "Death in the waiting room? Homicide?" Carol J. Huser, Jun. 07, 2014

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