Delayed ED care led to Mercy patient's death, lawsuit claims

The family of a man who died at Mercy Hospital Springfield (Mo.) filed a lawsuit against the hospital Feb. 29, claiming delayed care and negligence contributed to his death, NBC affiliate KYTV reported. 

Anthony McGowan, 56, presented to the ED around 8 p.m. May 21, experiencing chest pain and arm numbness. He had a history of high blood pressure, coronary artery disease and heart attack, which was known by the hospital, according to the suit. 

By 6:45 a.m. May 22, Mr. McGowan had still not been seen by a clinician, the lawsuit claims. Mr. McGowan did not receive medical attention until someone in the waiting room notified a nurse that he was slumped over in his wheelchair at 6:49 a.m., according to the filing. The nurse reported that Mr. McGowan was pale, sweating and began to vomit. He was taken to a room for treatment, where he became unresponsive and died at the hospital the next day. 

The wrongful death suit argues that Mercy Hospital Springfield did not have a system in place to treat patients in the emergency department in a timely manner. 

"Because of the negligent failure by defendants to timely diagnose and provide medical care to Anthony McGowan … [he] lost the chance to survive," the lawsuit claims. 

Mr. McGowan's family said it is seeking actual and compensatory damages in a sum deemed "fair and reasonable" by the court.

"While we are limited in our comments about pending litigation, we acknowledge the family's loss and our thoughts and prayers go out to the McGowan family," Mercy said in a March 1 statement shared with Becker's. "Every patient in our emergency department receives a screening examination and is triaged. We attend to the most critical patients first based on this evaluation. Although we cannot share details, we believe the care provided by Mercy in this instance was appropriate and met the standards of care. Nevertheless, we understand the family's sorrow and will make every effort to share what we can to help them understand the course of events."

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