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Woman who sought medical treatment later died in police custody

Apr 2, 2012 | Doctor Errors

If people in New York City and beyond cannot rely on doctors to properly diagnose and treat them, then who are they suppose to turn to? One family is questioning whether a hospital is guilty of medical malpractice for turning a woman away who later died in police custody.

According to reports, the 29-year-old woman went to the hospital for treatment of what she believed was a sprained ankle. She refused to leave the emergency room and was arrested after a doctor said she was healthy enough to be jailed. However, the woman later died in her jail cell. An autopsy revealed that blood clots in her leg had travelled into her lungs.

The woman had apparently run into some tough times. In late 2010, a tornado destroyed her home, soon after that she lost her job. In April 2011, she was arrested for parental neglect after a child welfare official visited her home. Her children went to live with her mother.

The 29-year-old woman had sought help at a drop-in center for the mentally ill and was said to be making improvements. She apparently told staff members at the center that she had hurt her ankle. According to one source, the woman visited three hospitals to determine what was causing her leg pain.

The woman’s mother wants answers. She wants to know if the hospital or jail contributed to her daughter’s death by not giving her proper treatment and care.

The hospital where the woman was arrested says they are not guilty of negligence. Officials say that, in some cases, blood clots can go undetected. According to a statement, hospital officials say staff administered the right tests and followed proper procedures.

It is not clear how this specific case will turn out. However, New Yorkers who believe they are victims of medical malpractice may be awarded compensation. When a medical professional is negligent and causes harm to a patient they should be held responsible.

Source: MSNBC, "Hospital: Mom booted from ER who died in jail was treated appropriately," March 29, 2012