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Patient death may lead to hospital negligence lawsuit

Some believe that all city-run medical facilities provide substandard hospital care. Residents of New York who have benefited from excellent treatment in such facilities realize this isn't a fact. Mistakes can happen, however. Hospital negligence or judgment errors do occasionally result in patient injury. Anyone who needs a doctor's care must be tuned in to what's going on around them, if possible.

A family on the west coast is deciding whether to file a lawsuit against a hospital where a 57-year-old woman died. The autopsy reportedly revealed cause of death as dehydration and alcoholism-related liver disease. The negligence question comes in because she was missing from her bed in the city-run facility for about two weeks before her body was found in a stairwell.

The family filed the preliminary documents required before a government entity can be sued. Counsel states they will likely file their complaint against the hospital and the local Sheriff's Department, which provides on-site security. Damages sought are in excess of $25,000.

According to nurses, on Sept. 19 the woman was admitted, feeling weak and disoriented with a bladder infection. Further, she was prone to getting out of bed. Doctors ordered in writing that she never be left alone. On Sept. 21 she disappeared. Deputies told investigators they were not ordered to look for her on the day she went missing. A supervisor allegedly contradicts them, but admits specific directions to search stairwells was not given. On Oct. 8 she was found, likely having been dead for several days according to the autopsy report.

State investigators concluded the hospital and Sheriff's Department share blame. The family's claim alleges medical malpractice, negligence, dangerous property conditions and elder abuse/adult dependency law violations.

Hospital negligence occurs anywhere at any time, with no distinction between private or city-run. People want to trust that they or the ones they love will be cared for with the highest regard for safety. Unfortunately, sometimes a loss is suffered. Survivors are entitled to seek compensation as a way to hold accountable those proven to be responsible and get help with expenses going forward.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle, "Lynne Spalding’s family moves toward lawsuit" John Cote, Mar. 05, 2014

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