Melonie Torres visited Clovis Community Regional Medical Center seeking emergency care for a possible stroke. The hospital is part of a private, non-profit health network known as Community Medical Centers. Dr. Scott Ford and Dr. Philippe Vanderschelden, defendants in the case, were assigned to her care. The facility is obligated under federal and state law to perform a thorough examination to address Torres' possibly life-threatening condition. Ms. Torres ended up spending roughly 16 hours at the hospital awaiting her evaluation to be completed and deemed the process to be inadequate. She filed a claim of medical malpractice in the Fresno County Superior Court alleging that her injuries were the result of this improper treatment.
According to the suit, Vanderschelden & Ford approved the plaintiff's release without a complete medical examination and appropriate treatment. Within hours, the emergency department called her requesting that she return the hospital. After returning to the hospital, she was abruptly transferred in an emergency vehicle to Community Regional Medical in Fresno. It was determined that Torres had suffered a stroke, and she underwent emergency surgical procedures.
Her claim asserts that the stroke could have been avoided if she has received proper treatment at the Clovis facility and that the defendants failed to provide an adequate standard of care. The suit explained that the hospital had not met the provisions that all patients in the emergency room are entitled to receive regardless of their ability to pay. The plaintiff states that she now has endured periods of significant pain, has been unable to work, and lost the ability to lead a normal life on a day-to-day basis. In addition, she sought recovery for symptoms of depression, anxiety and anguish.
Causes of Action
The attorneys representing Ms. Torres have asserted three separate causes of action in their lawsuit. These include:
- Negligence in medical practice against all defendants: the defendants failed to demonstrate adequate skill and competency in the screening, diagnosis and treatment that resulted in severe and permanent injuries.
- Clovis Community Regional Medical Center showed a failure to adhere to the Emergency Medical Treatment & Active Labor Act (EMTALA). This is a federal law established in 1986, which is an unfunded mandate requiring emergency departments to provide care to all patients in efforts to stabilize their condition. In this case, the facility did not perform the screening in a timely fashion, leading to serious consequences.
- Clovis Community Regional Medical Center failed to adhere to California's Health & Safety Code Section 1317. This is a state law that is similar to the EMTALA. It places a duty on emergency facilities to conduct suitable emergency screening and diagnostic examination services to the public.