Friday, September 15, 2006

Hospital Homicide?

Waukegan waiting room death a homicide, jury rules

”Reckless behavior is one of those things that stands out in the coroner’s definition of homicide,” Keller said. “The underlying feeling of the jury is that a reckless act resulted in this woman’s death.”

In an unprecedented move, a Lake County coroner's jury Thursday ruled the death of a Waukegan woman in the emergency room of Vista East Medical Center in Waukegan a homicide.


The definition that I give to the Coroner’s Jury during their instructions regarding what constitutes a homicide:


A death that occurs because of an intentional or reckless act by another person. A person is reckless or is acting recklessly when he or she consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk of another’s death from their action or when their action (or inaction) demonstrates a gross deviation from the “standard of care”, which a reasonable person would exercise in a similar situation (the latter does not only refer to “medical care”, but to the usual “care” an individual would take in a similar situation).


Coroner’s Juries decide on the manner of death, keeping in mind that “this is neither a civil nor a criminal trial procedure, merely an inquest regarding the death of this individual” (further Jury instructions). Their decisions do not signify criminal findings or intent on anyone’s part, that is left up to the State’s Attorney and/or the Courts.

Yesterday's Coroner Jury felt that the hosptial was reckless in their behavior pertaining to this 49 year old woman's death and found the manner of death to be "homicide". Two hours in the ER waiting room with the complaint of 10 out of 10 crushing substernal chest pain, with diaphoresis and nausea, triaged but not treated, "a gross deviation from the standard of care" (caring?).

We, today, have filed reports referring this individual's death to the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, and the Illinois Department of Public Health. Further action is up to them, although I would recommend an advisory panel be established (with local resident involvement) to oversee changes that will no doubt be made at the hospital.

1 comment:

Sean Cononie said...

At first when I saw the news I thought , NO we can't do this because why should someone face criminal charges for making a mistake like this. I was worried about Emergency rooms closing , nurses and doctors not wanting to work in the ER's. I was also worried about how insurance companies cut their payments to hospitals causing less staff and thought how can we blame a nurse for these actions with such a over burdened system. I was sick two years ago and went to a doctor when I was traveling and the doctor two straight days said I had the flu. Meanwhile my temperature was 104, I could not move my neck, I kept my hands over my eyes indoors because the lights we so bright and I was vomiting every 15 minutes. A first year med student should have saw that I had meningitis. This doctors almost killed me. A few hours after leaving his office I was in critical care in a coma with bacterial meningitis. My eyes still today make me see double vision. So I understand how the system needs to improve. The doctor hid all his assets and had no malpractice insurance. Meanwhile the agencies I ran almost faced destruction. The agencies I run..... Deal with human rights, health care for the poor and homeless, homeless shelters, orphans and Hiv programs in Haiti to name a few. I also sit on the MRSA task force of South Florida, Inc . This agency was formed because doctors and ER's made many mistakes on poor people and were not doing wound cultures on people with no insurance. I would see our homeless loose their toes and in some cases their leg. Some came to the point of being placed in ICU. All because the ER doctor sent them home with an antibiotic that did not work on MRSA. In some cases we would send the homeless person with a note asking the Doctor to do a wound culture and state to them that there was a MRSA problem at the shelter, still the doctors would do as they pleased. When the homeless in Arizona were not provided cooling off stations and about 14 to 16 died of heat stoke I sent a letter to the city counsel of that community and told them that they had better provide cooling off stations to the homeless as way to bring a remedy to the situation and I told them if they did not provide such services to the homeless then I knew in my heart that they neglected them after I warned them and that I would fly there and file a complaint to the state attorneys office and the United States Department of Justice. This was the fastest letter I ever got back in less than a day by a fax saying they would resolve the problem. When is it time to prosecute people for things like a bad disaster plan in New Orleans? Should the Mayor, the Governor, The President be prosecuted for such a bad response ? Yes and No.... If they attempt to make changes for this social injustice then lets make change .... However if we continue to let it happen then we need to start somewhere. I am glad it is not criminal homicide , at first I was not in agreement with this plan of Dr. Keller. I must say after reading this blog, that he wants to set standards and improve heath care everywhere. My hat goes off to Dr. Keller for trying to make changes for the safety of all of us. Everybody knows that doctors stick up for doctors and cops stick up for cops .... etc For a man in the same medical profession to stand up for the rights of this woman it must be from the heart. Dr. Keller go ahead and make the changes and stick up for the rights of the people the world forgets about.

Sean Anthony Cononie
Peoples United Nations, Inc
Director