This hasn't been pitted yet? Woman dies in hospital when 911 refuses her (Major RO)

It’s in a poor neighborhood. The emergency room handles like 200 cases a day, most without insurance or the means to pay.

There was yet another report on the situation at King-Harbor on the radio tonight while I was driving home. (If you listen to NPR in L.A. it seems like there’s a report on King-Harbor every other week … usually more bad news.) Apparently they’re up for another review next month and this recent death may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. The county supervisors may just shut it down.

I’m not sure, the law is pretty complicated, but I think it might have constitued a COBRA/EMTALA violation on the part of the paramedics if they had removed her from the hospital.

It’s kind of a gray area, but my understanding is the same. She’s on the hospital property and the hospital’s obligated to provide her with a medical screening exam and stabilizing care.

If I somehow got sent on this call, there’s no way I’d take someone to another hospital without a doctor’s orders.

Jodi- A lot of times we will take patients to the hospital of their choice. However, we’re not obligated to take them past the closest appropriate facility.

drachillix- Interfacility transfers for unstable patients are getting more common as hospitals become more specialized. The fact that Medicare now pays for Critical Care Transport (CCT) helps, too.

St. Urho

There were police there in the hospital. Instead of helping the woman, they arrested her. How is that the 911 dispatcher’s fault? It doesn’t make sense to me to dispatch police to the hospital when police are already sitting right there.

Reading between the lines of the coverage, I get the sense that this woman was perceived by the hospital staff to be a drug seeker. i.e. somebody who screams about pain in order to get oxycontin, vicodin, or some other opiate.

A lot of drug addicts go to hospitals with this kind of plan and one result is that people with legitimate problems are often treated with a lot of skepticism.

I know that we should, indeed, wait until the facts are in, and that it;'s possible to spin things, but if this guy’s statements are accurate, then it should have been clear that this woman was in serious trouble:

In other, lesser RO news from that story,

The Los Angeles Police Department just continues to acquit itself with professionalism, doesn’t it?

I just saw some lawyer type going off not only on staff (righly so) but the other patients and janitors who did nothing to help- what the fuck is a janitor supposed to do for a woman vomiting blood from a perforated bowel? Whip out his x-acto knife and start operating?

Obviously I am very far away from it but it is my understanding that the LAPD and the Los Angeles County Police Department are two completely separate organizations. It is a county facility so the county cops were there.

Perhaps the janitors were supposed to beat the unhelpful staff members with broom handles until they agreed to help the woman.


I think he was trying to go for some Kitty Genovese type outrage at the apathy, which was dumb becasue many people who saw her called 911.

In the story I read when it first happened, the janitor was mopping the floor around the patient as if she were a piece of furniture. I wouldn’t expect the janitor to offer medical help, but it would be nice if he had acknowledged her basic humanity. Also, bringing her condition to the attention of the nearby medical personnel might have been nice.

At least one nurse resigned shortly after this incident happened.

Even if she was a drug-seeker in the past, the woman was coughing up blood! To ignore an obvious medical emergency is criminal negligence.

It seems to be a bigger problem of a healthcare system in South LA that is crumbling from abuse and overuse.
Here’s an ER that packs them in nightly and takes on (by law) every single person that walks in off the street. Illegal aliens, people too poor to afford insurance, drug abusers, gang members, etc. etc. etc. that go to the ER for treatment for everything from gunshot wounds to earaches since regular practice docs turn them away. Overload a system like this, stress out every employee until they become numb to the chaos surrounding them, and you have a recipe for exactly what happened.
It’s not the hospital that’s broken, it’s the system.
Sure, sue every hospital member, close the place down. Then what? Where are all these people going to go for treatment? Find the next closest hopsital and turn it into the next King-Drew?

No need to close it down. LA could try what DC did with St. Elizabeth’s: make it smaller.

Pedantic nitpicks…

Coughing up blood from a perforated bowel?? :dubious:

#1 Most people wouldn’t recognize vomited blood from a bleeding ulcer as blood (it looks kinda like coffee grounds unless its really flowing).

#2 IIRC usually the blood is coming out the other end for most bowel bleeds.

#3 More than a few drug seekers will do things like bite their tongue trying to simulate bigger problems.

#4 From the picture she looks a little on the hefty side. If she normally has high blood pressure a sloppy triage, like failure to ask for a brief past medical history, she could have a perfectly reasonable looking blood pressure and be deemed a lower priority even though she was in trouble…

#5 Drug seeking behavior is far from isolated to inner city crack-ho types. MANY people especially those coming off of recent surgery confuse narcotic withdrawl with a “problem” needing medical intervention.

I was involved with quite a few back in the day, at the time we were providing NICU transfer services to the local childrens hospital from. Hour+ code-3 runs all the time from all over central CA back into Fresno. Zooom! :cool:

Still we are talking like 1% of local call volume, our NICU transfer coverage was for something like 17 counties.

Yeah, but this guy Prado wasn’t diagnosing anything, let alone a perforated bowel (that diagnosis, I gather, was made later). He reported what he saw – that she was vomiting blood. He isn’t saying she’s vomiting coffee grounds or anything, which suggests that it looked like blood. That would certainly get my attention.

Ah, my mistake… I’m so used to seeing “Los Angeles” and “Police” in some description of acting assholishly that I didn’t read it carefully.


They already tried that. They reduced the number of beds, eliminated the hospital’s connection with the nearby medical school and cut everything but essential hospital services. They’ve changed the management at least twice, most recently transferring control to the UCLA Harbor hospital.

As **Hampshire ** points out, the problem is that it’s the primary hospital for a very poor area of the city. The emergency room is overloaded with gang victims and people with no where else to go for basic medical care. The staff is overworked and morale is in the toilet – many of the better doctors and nurses have left for greener pastures.

What happened to Mrs. Rodriguez was horrible, but there’s no easy solution to this problem. Closing the hospital will just overload other hospitals in the area.