New York Personal Injury Law Blog » Hospital Malpractice


July 1st, 2008

Kings County Hospital. Women Dies in ER. And It’s On Video

The story doesn’t get much more appalling than this. Esmin Green — a troubled 49 year-old woman who is waiting in the psychiatric emergency room of Kings County Hospital for a bed — collapses onto the floor. After she had been waiting almost 24 hours. And then is ignored for an hour. And then dies.

And it’s caught on video:

There is little doubt in my mind that if this incident were not caught on film that the medical records would not only detail an altogether different story, but that those records would be hard to challenge. According to this story at the Huffington Post regarding the medical records, however, the records can be challenged. And that is because of the video, which shows she collapsed at 5:32 a.m. Notwithstanding that:

One notation said that at 6 a.m., she was “awake, up and about” and had just used the restroom. Another said that at 6:20 a.m., she was sitting quietly in the waiting room, and had a normal blood pressure. During both of those times, Green was either in her death throes or already dead.

The most disturbing part of this is that it is reminiscent of the infamous Kitty Genovese murder. Genovese was a 29 year-old New York woman who was repeatedly stabbed over a prolonged period of time, and while her screams were heard by many, there were no prompt reports to the police. The murder was the inspiration for the 911 emergency telephone system.

But here, we have actual employees inside an emergency room that fail to act. The most disturbing image, to me, is the security guard that rolls up in a chair and then rolls away. He couldn’t even be bothered to stand up to see what was going on.

Before this death, the hospital had already been sued after an investigation at the hospital “showed that Kings County psychiatric facilities are overcrowded and often dangerously unsanitary and that patients — including children and the physically disabled — are routinely ignored and abused” according to ABC News.

The fact that the attorneys here were able to get this videotape is remarkable. The incident happened, according to the story, on June 19th. That means that it was not procured through any new litigation. Because the quickest way to get pre-suit discovery in New York is through a separate action before a lawsuit is started to preserve evidence, brought on by Order to Show Cause. The judge would then order evidence preserved through a Temporary Restraining Order and then order a hearing. That takes time. Especially since there appear to be other patients in the video clip, and that brings on issues of privacy and HIPAA.

So the tape either came from prosecutors or health department investigators, or was possibly turned over as part of the prior litigation. But my guess is that it was probably leaked by a very angry employee of the hospital or security staff.

Kings County Hospital, by the way, is city-owned.

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