Tuesday, October 24, 2006

"Woman's Heart Attack Death Ruled a Homicide"

I got 67 emails last Thursday from all over the US after a link was placed on the WomenHeart website about a recent death here in Lake County and the inquest jury’s verdict. The death was of a 49 year old female who presented to a local ER with 10 out of 10 chest pain, shortness of breath and nausea. She died waiting in the waiting room, 10-20 feet from the care she needed to interrupt her heart attack. The jury came back with a verdict of “homicide”. It was the jury’s feeling, and certainly mine, that this case demands a change, an improvement, in the system that allowed this woman to die on a couch in a waiting room after a 2 hour wait. The emails I received reinforced that opinion.

Many wrote of their experiences of having symptoms “ignored”, and having heart damage as a result. Many felt they were ignored because they were woman. At least one added minority status as a contributor to lack of treatment.

Our country should not have a healthcare system that fails so many in our “community”. It is obviously a system problem and it must be addressed before it kills again. No one should “hang” for this death or any individual death that is a result of a system problem, but we must call attention to the problem that is killing folks. We must demand change. We must demand quality healthcare. Individual malpractice suits are not affecting the system, so we must find other ways to bring this discussion to the fore.

Demand quality. Don’t let people die waiting for, asking for, care.

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