Family of Mental Patient Settles for $2 Million

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NEW YORK—The city of New York has settled a wrongful-death lawsuit with the family of a mentally ill patient who died while at a Brooklyn hospital.

Esmin Green, 49, was a psychiatric patient who was waiting in the city-owned Kings County Hospital Center when she died. Officials say that she had been in the waiting room for almost 24 hours.

No one moved to help Green, although several people – including hospital medical staff and two security guards – were seen on a security video as they stopped to look at her, then walked away. Green was thrashing her legs on the floor and attempting to get up. After about 30 minutes, she stopped moving. She has been on the floor for roughly an hour when a nurse came to examine her and checked her pulse.

A medical examiner later said that Green had suffered from blood clots.

The city has settled the lawsuit for $2 million. Green’s family is still pursuing an investigation into what happened to cause the death, which took place on June 19, 2008.

The videotaped incident, which caused a nationwide uproar when it became public, also caused six employees at the hospital to lose their jobs. It also prompted the United States Department of Justice to begin an investigation into “inadequate care” at Kings County Hospital Center. Green’s death is one of many abuses that were documented in a February report by the Department of Justice, including violence among patients and sexual abuse.

In a statement, Alan Aviles, president of the city’s Health and Hospitals Corporation, announced that reforms would be implemented at the hospital. Among other reforms, 200 medical personnel would be added to the staff, and two top administrators would be replaced. These improvements, said Aviles, would shorten the average waiting time in the psychiatric emergency room from 27 hours to eight hours.

“The indelible memory of this tragedy will spur us to fulfill our promise to create a national model of patient-centered mental health services at Kings County Hospital,” said Aviles’s statement, in part.

Sanford Rubenstein, the attorney for Green’s family, also issued a statement on Wednesday, after the settlement was announced. “What remains most important to this family is the criminal culpability for those responsible for what happened and those who attempted to cover it up,” he said.

 

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