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$3 Million California Wrongful Death Settlement Reached Between Los Angeles County Supervisors and Family Alleging Medical Malpractice Because Woman was Denied Medical Care

December 31, 1969
In Southern California, the children of Edith Rodriguez have reached a wrongful death settlement with Los Angeles County Supervisors over the lack of care their mother received at Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Medical Center. 

Rodriguez died after a triage nurse at the hospital disregarded her complaints on May 9, 2007. Security footage reportedly shows Rodriguez, 43, in the hospital waiting room while staff walk by her and a janitor mops around her. Rodriguez reportedly was writhing in pain for a quarter of an hour on the floor before her death.

Two people reportedly made 911 calls asking for someone to help Rodriguez. During each call, dispatchers disregarded their concerns. In the first call, the dispatcher said no one could be sent to help Rodriguez because she was already at a hospital. The second dispatcher told the caller that the situation did not sound life-threatening. One of the 911 phone calls was made by Jose Prado, Rodriguez's boyfriend.

Rodriguez, who had been released from the hospital emergency room just hours before her last visit had a perforated bowel. She had been to the hospital four times in three days looking for medical help. According to an internal report prepared by an outside company that lawyers for the county unintentionally released, Rodriguez could have survived her ailment if she had received the medical care that she was seeking. 

Rodriguez's three children had accused the defendants of medical malpractice and civil rights violations.Their Los Angeles wrongful death lawsuit had asked for $45 million in compensation--1 million for each minute their mother was denied medical care. Prado is to receive a $250,000 settlement.

Following Rodriguez's death, federal regulators sought to close down beleaguered hospitals where workers failed to provide patients with the minimum standard of care. From fiscal years 1999 to 2003, Los Angeles County shelled out $20.1 million to settle California medical malpractice cases filed because of mistakes and failures that occurred at King-Harbor hospital.

California Medical Malpractice
California medical providers, such as hospitals and clinics, and the staffers who work there, including doctors, nurses, paramedics, emergency room workers, dentists, surgeons, chiropractors, gynecologists, and other medical professionals, owe patients a certain standard level of care. When failure to provide that care or when medical mistakes, recklessness, carelessness, or negligence causes injury or death, the parties responsible for the error and the facility where the incident took place can be held liable for medical malpractice or wrongful death.

Some Examples of Medical Malpractice:

Delayed diagnosis
Wrong diagnosis
Operating on the wrong body party
Failure to provide medical care
Delayed medical care
Leaving a surgical instrument or another foreign object inside a patient
Medication overdose
Wrong medication

Related Web Resources:

Crisis Seen in Nation's ER Care, Washington Post, June 15, 2006