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Claim Filed Against Hospital, Nurse In Patient Death

Nov 2, 2004 | AP The family of a 28-year-old man who died at the county-owned Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center after a nurse turned down his vital signs monitor has filed a $1 million claim against Los Angeles County and the nurse for negligence, an attorney said Monday.

Mario Nelson died Oct. 7 after a nurse failed to notice Nelson's monitor screen flashing, a sign of patient distress. A physician trainee noticed the monitor was flashing about an hour later and tried to revive Nelson, said the family's attorney.

The nurse allegedly also falsified Nelson's records, writing that he was doing well at 6:30 p.m. more than an hour after he had died. Matthews alleged that the nurse made the notation at 4:30 p.m. and never checked on Nelson again.

The incident was the latest crisis for the hospital, where federal inspectors say five patients died from negligence last year and others were given improper medication. Three of the patients died after nurses did not watch their cardiac monitors a situation similar to Nelson's case.

Last month, the county proposed closing the hospital's trauma center the second busiest in the county so the medical center could focus on its myriad problems.

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