LA County hospital ER personnel allow a patient to die right in front of them

This story is shocking. A woman the ER nurses considered to be a complainer kept coming back to the ER complaining of stomach pain. Even after she fell out of the wheelchair where she had been sitting and writhed and yelled in pain on the floor, the ER staff just walked around her. Even the custodian swept the floor around her. The deliberate negligence is unbelievable. And where did this happen? Martin Luther King, Jr. – Harbor Hospital, run by LA County Department of Health Services in collaboration with UCLA, USC, and Drew Medical Society:

In the emergency room at Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital, Edith Isabel Rodriguez was seen as a complainer.

“Thanks a lot, officers,” an emergency room nurse told Los Angeles County police who brought in Rodriguez early May 9 after finding her in front of the Willowbrook hospital yelling for help. “This is her third time here.”

Turning to Rodriguez, the nurse said, “You have already been seen, and there is nothing we can do,” according to a report by the county office of public safety, which provides security at the hospital.

Parked in the emergency room lobby in a wheelchair after police left, she fell to the floor. She lay on the linoleum, writhing in pain, for 45 minutes, as staffers worked at their desks and numerous patients looked on.

Aside from one patient who briefly checked on her condition, no one helped her. A janitor cleaned the floor around her as if she were a piece of furniture. A closed-circuit camera captured everyone’s apparent indifference.

Arriving to find Rodriguez on the floor, her boyfriend unsuccessfully tried to enlist help from the medical staff and county police — even a 911 dispatcher, who balked at sending rescuers to a hospital.

Alerted to the “disturbance” in the lobby, police stepped in — by running Rodriguez’s record. They found an outstanding warrant and prepared to take her to jail. She died before she could be put into a squad car.

This incident is not the first bad mark for the hospital:

Over the last 3 1/2 years, King-Harbor has reeled from crisis to crisis.

Based on serious patient-care lapses, it has lost its national accreditation and federal funding. Hundreds of staff members have been disciplined and services cut.

Janssen said he was concerned that the incident would divert attention from preparing the hospital for a crucial review in six weeks that is to determine whether it can regain federal funding.

If the hospital fails, it could be forced to close.


Supervisor Gloria Molina, who hadn’t seen the videotape, said she wasn’t sure the hospital had reformed.

“What’s so discouraging and disappointing for me is that it seems that this hospital at this point in time hasn’t really transformed itself — and I’m worried about it,” she said.

What did Gloria Molina mean when she expressed concern that the hospital hadn’t reformed? Well in 2005 the director and chief medical officer issued a report to the supervisors on where the hospital needed to improve and the status of those improvements. These are the areas where the hospital was lagging the most:

The key areas that were out of compliance with the standards of JCAHO were: 1) governance; 2) quality of patient care; 3) competency of staff including physicians and residents; 4) staff orientation and education; 5) overall management and leadership; and 6) physical plant and

This is where the hospital stood on improvements, particularly in the areas of competency of staff:

Competency of staff, including physicians and residents – Resident supervision has improved as detailed in Attachment A. Little progress has been made in reducing the use of contract nursing staff. The percentage of nursing registry staff has increased with the removal of poorly performing KDMC staff. Recruitment continues to be a struggle in our goal to develop a permanent, stable, engaged, and high performing workforce.

No kidding.

This hospital is the perfect example of why government run health care as a whole would be disastrous for Americans, and it similarly illustrates the point made by a Wizbang commenter who lives in Canada and described the government run heath care in his country:

Get a laugh out of 7 government road workers holding shovels and only one of them digging? It’s an even better yuk when they are hospital staff.

If you think you’ve seen lazy workers come on up and we Canadians will show you how it’s done. You can watch the fat-arsed hippo people who dwell in city halls, motor vehicle office, federal and state/provincial offices everywhere, moving at their usual slow crawl. These ones are in hospitals, everywhere, including emergency wards.

Including the emergency ward in LA county’s King-Harbor hospital.

Update: Laer at Cheat Seeking Missiles commented on this story as well and has more detail on King-Harbor’s devolution:

Over the years, it has digressed from a 233-bed facility with a tip-top trauma center and a conjoined medical school to a 48-bed hospital with no trauma center or medical school. In just the last two and a half years, 260 hospital staffers, including 41 doctors, had been fired or had resigned as a result of disciplinary proceedings. The trauma facility lost its certification and was closed.

Financially, it’s just as much a mess. One consulting firm was paid $1 million to straighten out problems with the nursing staff. From the story above, you can see it wasn’t $1 million well spent. Another consulting firm was paid $17 million to operate the facility for $18 months.

And the whole thing has sunk into a swamp of litigation … with Ms. Rodriguez’s family to join that club soon.

Why is it exactly that this government-bred and government-run hospital should be a model for the destruction of America’s medical system?

Because the compassionate liberals believe that this kind of health care is what Americans deserve.

Update II: Amy Ridenour points us to the website On the Fence Films, a site designed for those who are considering supporting the concept of socialized, universal, government run health care system. Scroll throughout the site. In it you will find many specific examples of how socialized medicine has failed the people it was supposed to help over and over again.

Amy listed several of the examples that On the Fence Films writes about:

  • The sad story of a British man who can’t see because the British National Health care system hasn’t gotten around to removing his cataracts — for three years. (He has a kidney stone, too, and Britain’s “universal” health care system won’t fix that, either.)
  • A fellow in Canada who has been waiting eight months (so far) for heart surgery.
  • A Canadian with a malignant brain tumor who fled to New York for medical treatment, rather than (most likely) die on a Canadian waiting list. His best friend had died on a waiting list for heart surgery.
  • A South African man who dies after “elective” surgery he needed to save his life was cancelled seven times (socialized medicine systems artifically manipulate waiting list statistics to meet bureaucratic benchmarks by scheduling more surgeries than they can accomodate, and then cancel the surgeries at the last minute — at incalulable personal cost to patients). Read the family diary to which On the Fence Films links for a fuller story of what this man and his family suffered.
  • Three stories: A Canadian girl whose heart surgery was cancelled; an Australian man who has been on a 90-day waiting list for two years; a couple who had to schedule care for three disabled family members in order for the man to have surgery — which then was cancelled.

And note that these examples are from a variety of countries, illustrating that it isn’t how socialized medicine is implemented that’s the issue; it’s that socialized medicine itself simply doesn’t work.

Amy also recommends that you check out the film Two Women, which offers one example of how the Canadian government decides who gets the care they need and who doesn’t. In A Short Course in Brain Surgery we learn that it’s not a good idea to get a brain tumor when you live in Canada.

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