A New York hospital is being sued by the family of a man who slipped into an irreversible coma after being left waiting to be treated for close 10 hours.
Surveillance footage released by the family lawyer showed Angel Rivera, 53, being led into a hospital hallway and left there for more than nine hours after he checked in with a head injury.
Hospital workers at Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx initially treated him and then brought him into a hallway to wait for further care. But the footage shows no one checking up on him again until more than nine hours had passed.
By the time workers found him, Rivera had slipped into an irreversible coma and was bleeding from the nose.
According to the lawsuit, Riviera slipped into a coma due to the negligence of hospital staff. He died two years later of a heart attack.
His family’s Lawyer said in a statement: “A hospital can’t lose their patient who’s literally right in front of them. How does that happen in the absence of some basic flaw in the way that (emergency department) is run?”
Riviera entered the hospital complaining of a headache on the evening of 19 July 2014 and was checked over by hospital staff. He was then given an identification wristband and an ice pack before being told to stay in the hospital for observation.
After more than two hours waiting, hospital records indicate a member of staff looked for Riviera but could not find him, so staff noted he had “voluntarily left” the emergency department.
Nurses reported the patient had come back to the department in the next morning but the security footage shows he had remained in the same place all night.
He had already slipped into a coma and was bleeding from the nose. He was rushed to an emergency surgery and doctors were unable to reverse the damage. He remained in a vegetative state for two years until he died in 2016 after suffering from a heart attack.
Riviera’s family is now suing the hospital for not preventing the coma.
After the incident, the hospital official released a statement, “While patient confidentiality laws preclude our commenting on the specifics of this case, we nevertheless extend our heartfelt sympathies to the family members of Mr. Rivera.”