Doctors, Nurses Could Face Charges in Hospital Death

Staff at a Brooklyn city hospital could face criminal charges for faking medical records and lying as they scrambled to cover-up their "striking" neglect of a psychiatric patient who died on an emergency room floor, according to a damning report released Friday.

The city's Department of Investigation blasted doctors and nurses for ignoring patient Esmin Green, whose death from a blood clot exactly a year ago was captured on dramatic security videotape first aired on WNBC-TV.

"Our report lays out where people admitted to making false records and where we saw that testimony did not line up with the videotape," said Rose Gill Hearn, the city's DOI commissioner.

A senior nurse admitted to making fake entries to make it seem as though she had been regularly checking on the 49-year-old Green, the report said. However, at those times the videotape showed Green sprawled on the emergency room floor, neglected and dying, officials found.

Four doctors took the Fifth Amendment when questioned about whether they had actually checked on Green, the report said. "Discrepancies were uncovered that called into question the accuracy of the medical records created by certain Kings County Hospital doctors," the report found.

"DOI’s investigation further disclosed that the failures documented in Ms. Green’s ill-fated stay at the facility in all likelihood were not aberrations, but rather the result of systemic weaknesses in the emergency room’s operating procedures..."

DOI has referred these "disturbing findings" to the Brooklyn District Attorney's office for "whatever action they deem appropriate."

Green had been waiting in the psychiatric ward for nearly 24 hours before she fell to the floor about 5:30 a.m. on June 19, 2008.

She lay there for an hour, rolled around a bit and then died -- all that time ignored by staff, according to the videotape and the report.

For 10 hours before her death, not a single doctor had checked on her and she had received "little attention from the nursing staff," the report said.

Green's family wants criminal charges against staffers who are guilty of misconduct.

"Those who are guilty should be prosecuted and put behind bars where they belong," said Green's daughter, Tecia Harrison.

Her family's lawyer, Sanford Rubenstein, recently negotiated a $2 million settlement from the city for her death.

He urged that "whether you are a nurse or a doctor, if you intend to cover-up a wrongful death, you will be held accountable criminally."

The city's Health and Hospital's corporation, which runs KCH, called the DOI report "a necessary and final review of what went terribly wrong one year ago."

In the wake of Green's death, HHC said six hospital workers lost their jobs and the KCH psychiatric ward underwent an overhaul "from to bottom" with new staff and better oversight.

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