Kings County Hospital Sued for $25 Million in Patient's Videotaped DeathJul 8, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP Esman Green’s daughter has called for criminal prosecution of the workers who did nothing to help her mother who died at Brooklyn’s Kings County Hospital Center (KCHC) June 19. Green, a patient at KCHC, was allowed to writhe on the floor of its psychiatric emergency ward for a full 24-hours before a nurse realized Green was in distress; by then, Green had died. The nurse approached Green’s body and nudged it with her foot.
This medical malpractice occurred while that unit’s attending psychiatrist and two security guards—who all appeared to have noticed Green’s prone body on at least three occasions—were in the vicinity. Based on surveillance footage obtained by the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), Green appeared to be ignored and unattended while hospital workers and other patients in the same room, did nothing. Green had been in the KCHC psychiatric ward waiting area for over 24 hours.
"What I want is justice," Tecia Harrison, Green’s daughter, said, hours after her family notified the hospital, the city, and the city's Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) that they intend to file a $25 million lawsuit. "Whoever committed a criminal act should be held responsible."
Alan Aviles, president of the Health and Hospitals Corporation, which oversees KCHC, said since Green’s death, new staff, procedures, and training would likely be supplemented by further reforms. "We failed Esmin Green and believe her family deserves fair and just compensation," Aviles said. "HHC referred this matter to criminal enforcement and regulatory authorities on June 20. We have been cooperating and will continue to support any and all investigations." The city Department of Investigation (DOI) is examining the case with the cooperation of the HHC, said DOI spokeswoman Dianne Struzzi. The Brooklyn DA’s office is also involved, and will decide whether to prosecute, Struzzi said. The medical examiner's office has performed an autopsy and is conducting tests to determine the cause of death.
Harrison, 31, is Green’s eldest child and one of the six children Green left in Jamaica when she moved to the United States in 2000 to find work. Harrison questions how her mother ended up involuntarily committed to the psychiatric ward and how she fell ill and died with no one by her side. "It was heartbreaking," Harrison said of the surveillance video. "Something inside of me died right there with my mom."
Patient records were falsified to indicate that at 6 a.m. and 6:20 a.m.—when surveillance footage shows Green on the floor—Green was "awake, up, and about" or sitting quietly. The NYCLU released the video, which shows Green slumping out of her chair and going into convulsions as workers and fellow patients walked by her, doing nothing as Green died. Apparently, the KCHC is so jammed with patients that the sight of a woman stumbling, writhing, collapsing, and dying was not cause for concern.
Six people were fired after Green’s death at KCHC, which had already been the subject of complaints and lawsuits by advocates for the mentally ill. The Department of Justice began investigating allegations of patient mistreatment at KCHC earlier this year.