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St. Louis Hospitals Sued for Wrongful Death of Homeless Woman

On behalf of Brown & Crouppen, P.C. posted in Medical Malpractice on Friday, November 23, 2012

The family of a woman who died in September of 2011 in the Richmond Heights jail has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against two St. Louis hospitals, claiming they refused treatment and cleared her to leave the emergency room with the police.

The woman died from deep vein thrombosis after blood clots in her legs moved to her lungs. Her family is suing St. Mary’s Health Center and St. Louis University Hospital. She had been examined and released by St. Louis University Hospital before she arrived at St. Mary’s Health Center

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the lawsuit alleges St. Louis University Hospital had negligently failed to diagnose her deep vein thrombosis. She then went to St. Mary’s to seek treatment. She refused to leave St. Mary’s, complaining that she was suffering severe pain in her legs and was unable to walk.

Personnel at St. Mary’s called the police, claiming she was trespassing, “deemed her fit for confinement” and cleared her for transport to the Richmond Heights jail, where she died about an hour later.

If a hospital or doctors violated their duty of care in their delivery of medical services, and that violation causes a patient to die, the survivors may be able to file a wrongful death action.

If the allegations are true, this case presents an unpleasant reminder that hospitals can make decisions that can cost people their lives. Wrongful death lawsuit serve as a check on the tendency of institutions to privilege efficiency and return on investment above all else.

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

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