Outside eyes will be watching a troubled Brooklyn city hospital where staff ignored a dying woman who had collapsed on an emergency room floor, according to a court order signed by a judge Friday.
A federal consent decree puts Kings County Hospital under five years of monitoring by the U.S. Justice Department as well as by advocates who had sued the facility in 2007, alleging that its psychiatric emergency room was "a chamber of filth, decay and danger."
Read the judgement.
The July 2008 death of ignored patient Esmin Green -- caught on dramatic videotape first aired by WNBC-TV -- focused a national spotlight on KCH. Her death prompted sweeping reforms, damning reports by the city and feds about conditions, an ongoing criminal investigation into alleged staff abuses and a $2 million settlement by the city to her family. Green, 49, had been languishing in
KCH's psychiatric emergency room for just over 24 hours and for the last hour of her life was sprawled face down on the floor, at times writhing in pain, as nurses and doctors just walked by, according to the videotape.
Under the court settlement, KCH has agreed to more reforms including: banning psychiatric ER stays beyond 24 hours; using restraints only when patients pose an imminent threat to themselves or to others; protecting whistleblowers; paying attention to patient grievances; making staff more accountable and preventing patients from continually cycling through the hospital by starting appropriate discharge planning.
Staff at KCH could face criminal charges for allegedly faking medical records and lying as they scrambled to cover up their apparent neglect of Green, who died of a blood clot, according to a devastating report by the city's Department of Investigation and law enforcement sources.
"The systematic reform outlined in this settlement should ensure that another tragedy, like the one that claimed Esmin Green's life, never happens at this hospital again," said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, which had sued KCH along with Mental Hygiene Legal Services and Kirkland & Ellis LLP.