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New York Hospital Negligence Victim Died of Blood Clots

Jul 15, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP
Woman Bleeding

Woman Died on KCHC Grounds.

Esman Green, the woman who died at Brooklyn’s Kings County Hospital Center (KCHC) June 19 after writhing on the floor of its psychiatric emergency ward for a full hour, has apparently died due to blood clots.  According to an Associated Press (AP) report, the blood clots were caused “by a long period of physical inactivity.”

Based on surveillance footage obtained by the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), Green, 49, appeared to be ignored and unattended while hospital workers and other patients in the room, did nothing.  Green was in the KCHC psychiatric ward waiting area for over 24 hours before she began convulsing, collapsed, and died.  Eventually, a nurse approached Green’s body and nudged it with her foot.  This medical negligence 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, but failed to act or even acknowledge what was happening.

Following an autopsy and weeks of tests, the AP reports that “the medical examiner's office concluded Friday that Green was killed by pulmonary thromboemboli, blood clots that form in the legs and travel through the bloodstream to the lungs.  The medical examiner said the clots were due to ‘deep venous thrombosis of lower extremities due to physical inactivity,’ complicating an underlying psychological illness:  Chronic paranoid schizophrenia.”  An attorney for the family said that, “The length of time that she spent in the emergency room ... very well may have contributed to her death.  Physical inactivity was obviously a significant contributing factor."

Falsificated Records.

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.  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.

According to the AP report, “EMS workers … brought Green to KCHC the morning of June 18.  The hospital said she was suffering from agitation and psychosis and was involuntarily admitted after refusing medical review.”  The paper also reports that Green family lawyers said that had Green been “carefully attended to when she arrived at the emergency room, doctors might have noticed swelling in her legs and taken action.

People known to be at risk from deep vein thrombosis are often given anticoagulation drugs or compression stockings, which can keep clots from forming, and advised not to sit for hours at a time.

Alan Aviles, president of the Health and Hospitals Corporation, said "We failed Esmin Green and believe her family deserves fair and just compensation."  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

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