A man, Melvin Dillard, in Delaware died in the emergency room lobby after being discharged six hours after he arrived. Dillard was taken to the hospital after complaining of shortness of breath and pronounced chest pains. The EMS unit who took Dillard to the hospital observed that he showed all the signs that indicate an impending heart attack.
Even though this hospital had treated Dillard for heart issues in the past they nevertheless discharged him after such a short period of time. While waiting in the hospital lobby for a ride home, he died of a heart attack during the night. His body was not discovered until the morning by a hospital worker. There was an attempt to perform CPR but once he was returned to the emergency room rigor mortis was already setting in.
A lawsuit was filed on behalf of Dillard’s family. It accuses the hospital of negligence and wrongful death and it seeks damages. It alleges that the hospital did not adequately test or diagnose Dillard prior to being discharged. Additionally, the family claims that the hospital should have had Dillard admitted, kept for observation, and considered his cardiac history as well. There is also a claim in the suit that Dillard had an abnormal EKG and when the hospital staff discharged him they told him to go home and follow up with his cardiologist. The hospital states that the patient was seen and treated under the established protocols and was discharged while in a stable condition.
It has been suggested that since Dillard was African American, his minority status contributed to his neglect at the hospital. A 2010 study showed that minorities in America, even when they have private health insurance, receive lower-quality health care than Whites. As a result minorities receive less lifesaving heart medications, bypass surgery, dialysis, or kidney transplants. If the family can prove that Dillard was indeed neglected it will underscore what minorities face in trying to receive health care.
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