The family of 29-year-old Stephanie Larkin filed a medical malpractice claim after she died following inpatient treatment at Yakima Regional Medical and Cardiac Center. Charles Walter Larkin III brought the claim in Yakima County Superior Court alleging that her “untimely death” was the result of the medical negligence. She was originally treated because she felt weak and developed a tailbone cyst abscess. Larkin had previously suffered from lupus erythematosus, an autoimmune disorder that is usually treated by a rheumatologist.
Her tailbone abscess began to improve during her stay; however, her overall health worsened. Some of the staff felt that Stephanie should be transported to another facility with a lupus specialist. Stephanie was apparently wrought with fear thinking of how her potential death would negatively impact her 6-year-old son. The claim asserts that the facility “wrongfully kept Stephanie” until she was nearly dead.
Just prior to her death, she was transferred to Deaconess Medical Center located in Spokane. The abrupt transfer to Deaconess is alleged to have been an instance of “patient dumping.” One example of this practice is when a dying patient is quickly transported to another facility. This is done to avoid having to record the death as occurring at the current facility. The family believes the hospital did not property provide informed consent because they did not maintain proper communication with the family. The hospital was also accused of failing to bathe Stephanie and other failures in maintaining hygiene.
The claim is seeking damages for medical expenses, burial costs, and compensation for her son's loss of support. The family's first lawsuit associated with her death was dismissed because of “lack of jurisdiction.” The parent company was apparently based in Tennessee rather than in Washington.
What is Tailbone Cyst?
The patient, in this case, had a pilonidal cyst on her tailbone. This type of cyst may become infected and fill with pus. This problem is most common among younger people, particularly among those who spent a lot of time in a seated position. The cause(s) are still debated. Some experts believe it is caused by ingrown hairs, while others think it results from trauma.
A Baltimore Sun report recently discussed “patient dumping.” The practice originated years ago when private hospitals would transfer poor patients to public hospital facilities. Today, the practice sometimes involves patients with mental health conditions that are discharged from the hospital without any assistance from social services. Many of these individuals are homeless and the Commission on Civil Rights is attempting to stop the practice.
Patient Dumping in Nursing Homes
One form of patient dumping is believed to happen in nursing homes. This occurs when a patient is transferred to a hospital for care and is basically evicted from the nursing facility. When the patient is ready to return to the nursing home they are told that all beds are now filled. Federal requirements state that nursing homes must hold the bed of a hospital-bound patient for at least four days.