New York City will pay $2 million to the family of Esmin Green, a 49-year-old woman who was forced to wait for more than 24 hours in a Brooklyn psychiatric emergency room. Green eventually died on the floor, having never received care, from blood clots that moved from her legs to her lungs.
The incident put a spotlight on the city’s Health and Hospitals Corporation, a city-run agency responsible for medical facilities such as the Kings County psychiatric emergency room where Ms. Green died. This particular mental health facility is the sole provider for psychiatric care for many impoverished people in Brooklyn.
This tragedy comes on the heels of a 2007 lawsuit filed by the New York Civil Liberties Union, who complained of abuse and neglect of psychiatric patients at the city-run hospital. In response, the Federal Department of Justice launched an investigation and issued a report in February of this year, citing that patients were not treated for suicidal behavior, were abused by other psychiatric patients, and were regularly subdued with drugs or restraints, rather than receiving individualized care. Even more troublingly, the Department also found that in at least three cases, including Ms. Green’s, employees lied in their records to cover up their neglect of patients. The hospital claims it is now working on improving its image and care through the construction of a new Behavioral Health Center Pavilion, an increase in the number of doctors, nurses, and other hospital staff, a reduction in crowding in the emergency room, and less reliance on police officers to handle aggressive or suicidal patients.
The money from the settlement will not keep the family quiet: they want to ensure that other patients do not die as a result of the hospital and its staff’s negligence. They are particularly concerned with the staff’s attempts to cover up their poor care of mentally ill patients. The New York City Department of Investigation continues to investigate the situation.
recently named in the 2009 edition of Best Lawyer's In America, David Mittleman has been representing seriously injured people since 1985. A partner with Church Wyble PC—a division of Grewal Law PLLC—Mr. Mittleman and his partners focus on medical malpractice, wrongful death, car accidents, slip and falls, nursing home injury, pharmacy/pharmacist negligence and disability claims.