The title of this post is a quote from L.A. County supervisor Zev Yarovslosky after viewing the security tapes of Edith Rodriquez vomiting blood and writhing in pain on the floor of the ER in one of Los Angeles’ hospitals known as King-Harbor. She died in the ER while staff and patients watched her suffer for 45 minutes. She finally died of a perforated bowel. The security tapes show a janitor cleaning the floor around her as she lay dying. Ms. Rodriguez isn’t the first patient to die from neglect at King-Harbor. The question is..will she be the last?
Her boyfriend and complete strangers called 911 to report the negligence of the ER staff. Even then, Ms. Rodriguez did not receive help or compassion. The second call by a stranger who witnessed the incident, was told that her call wasn’t an emergency. Part of the transcript of the 911 call:
“Ma’am, I cannot do anything for you for the quality of the hospital there,” the dispatcher said. “Do you understand what I’m saying? This line is for emergency purposes only…. 911 is used for emergency purposes only.”
The woman replied, “This is an emergency, mister.”
The dispatcher cut her off. “It is not an emergency. It is not an emergency, ma’am.”
“It is,” the woman said.
“It is not an emergency,” the dispatcher replied.
“You’re not here to see how they’re treating her,” the bystander said.
“OK, well, that’s not a criminal thing. You understand what I’m saying?” the dispatcher said.
“Excuse me, if this woman fall out and die, what [do] you mean there ain’t a criminal thing?” the woman said.
In the days leading up to her death, Rodriguez had sought care in the King-Harbor emergency room three times. Each time she was released after receiving prescription drugs for pain. On May 8, however, she did not leave the hospital but instead lay on the benches in front of its main entrance. County police officers found her there and helped escort her to the emergency room. There, a triage nurse told Rodriguez that nothing could be done to help her. The coroner has stated she could of survived if she had received treatment for the condition.
It gets better my dear reader. When Ms. Rodriguez was laying on the floor, the triage nurse told her to ‘get up and get back in the wheelchair’. The police were alerted to a ‘disturbance’ in the ER room and ran Ms. Rodriguez through their computer system. Discovering she had a no-bail warrant, they took her into custody. As they were loading her into the back of a squad car, they found she was unresponsive.
Because she was dead.
In a country that can build space stations and spend billions on a war in Iraq, a woman died because medical staff just didn’t give a shit and were possibly overworked or overloaded with poor people that had no insurance and no other way to receive medical treatment. This hospital serves one of the poorest parts of Los Angeles. The police were more concerned about arresting her than getting her medical attention. The entire system failed this woman and the cost was her life.
No one should die from neglect in a friggin Emergency Room, I don’t care who they are. This is criminal negligence and nothing less. Her death was ruled accidental by the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office.
Accidental my ass. The LA Times did investigative pieces on the problems at King-Harbor in 2004. Federal regulators for the fourth time in three years declared patients at the hospital in immediate jeopardy. The Willowbrook hospital, once known as King/Drew, has been plagued by allegations of poor treatment almost since its inception 35 years ago.
But, its only poor people right? Any health care is better than no health care..or so they would have us believe.