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Hospital's failure to diagnose blood clots leads to woman's death

We all have a right to quality medical care regardless of our station in life or whether we are homeless in Rhode Island or elsewhere. When you or a loved one go to an emergency room for diagnosis and treatment of a medical condition, you have a right to expect to be treated with dignity and respect and for your medical symptoms to heard. That was not the case for one woman who arrived at a health center only to be arrested for refusing to leave the facility until her severe pain was treated.

The family of the 29-year-old woman has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the facility and doctors who failed to diagnose or properly treat this patient for a life-threatening condition. The St. Louis facility gave the police approval to remove the woman after providing officers with a medical clearance stating she was fit to be taken into police custody. The St. Mary's Health Center in Richmond requested police arrest the woman after she refused to leave the facility claiming she had such severe pain in her legs she could not even walk.

About an hour later the young mother of two children died on the floor of a jail cell after blood clots that developed in her legs moved to her lungs, killing her. The woman's mother filed the wrongful death suit on behalf of her daughter's two children, whom she now has guardianship of. Also named in the lawsuit is the St. Louis University Hospital and several physicians who previously examined and released the woman after failing to diagnose her condition.

The lawsuit claims St. Louis University hospital and its physicians were negligent when they failed to diagnose the woman's deep vein thrombosis, the blood clots in her legs. The lawsuit also contends that the staff at St. Mary's Health Center caused the young woman mental anguish, humiliation and restraint of her freedom pushing her into a painful and agonizing death. It also accuses the facility of false arrest and imprisonment.

By initiating the woman's arrest the facility's staff members exhibited outrageous behavior and reckless indifference to the rights and health of this and similar patients who enter the facility, according to sections of the lawsuit. Surveillance video obtained by local media showed a police officer telling a fire chief that the staff at St. Mary's thought the woman was only seeking drugs, indicating their indifference to her physical complaints.

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "Two St. Louis hospitals sued over death of jailed homeless woman," Christine Byers, Nov. 21, 2012

Our Rhode Island medical malpractice law firm helps families and individuals who have suffered harm through doctor negligence, including failure to diagnose -threatening medical conditions and emergency room errors similar to the story discussed above.

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