Family Sues for Wrongful Death after Man Treated in Hospital, Then Later Dies in Lobby Waiting for Ride

When 38-year-old Melvin A. Dillard Jr. felt chest pains June 26, he was rushed to a hospital in Lewes, Del., where he was checked out by medical personnel in the emergency room and then later released.

But while Dillard was sitting in the ER lobby waiting for a ride home at Beebe Medical Center, he apparently suffered a heart attack and died, then his body was not discovered by hospital personnel until the next morning, according to a story in The (Wilmington, DE) News Journal.

“The family now is alleging medical negligence and wrongful death in a lawsuit against Beebe and Sussex Emergency Associates, which operates the hospital’s ER department, and is seeking damages,” according The News Journal. “The family alleges that given Dillard’s symptoms and history of cardiac issues, he should have been admitted for observation and not sent away.”

Image credit: ©

Image credit: ©

The hospital issued a statement saying that Dillard “was seen, treated appropriately following all protocols and was discharged in stable condition,” the story reported. “While sleeping in the lobby waiting for a ride, the individual passed away.”

When he arrived at the hospital by ambulance, Dillard, who lived in Newark, Del., “was showing signs ‘consistent with an impending cardiac event’ and upon admission to the ER had an abnormal EKG,” the paper reported. “It is unclear what happened next, but Dillard was discharged with instructions to follow up with his cardiologist, according to the suit.”

After he was seen, he apparently couldn’t immediately get a ride home so he waited in the lobby, perhaps for a bus, the story said. “At some unknown time, Dillard then had a fatal heart attack but no one noticed.”

His lifeless body remained in the ER waiting area until he was found the next day, the family’s lawsuit states. He was rushed back into the ER when he was finally found, but he was eventually pronounced dead. Rigor mortis, when the body’s muscles stiffen naturally after death, had already set in, which indicated that his death had occurred at least several hours before he was found, according to the story.

Emergency room treatment injuries or deaths are not uncommon. In June, a Waverly, Md., family was awarded a $55 million verdict by a Baltimore Circuit Court jury for severe injuries suffered by their newborn son during his birth in March of 2010. In that case, the mother of the baby was rushed to a Baltimore hospital by ambulance for an emergency Caesarean section, but instead of being instantly taken into an emergency room for immediate surgery, she had to wait for more than two hours until the procedure was started. That delay, according to a lawsuit she filed against Johns Hopkins Hospital, meant that critically-needed medical care wasn’t given to her son in time, resulting in his being born with severe, life-changing birth defects.

The award was one of the largest in Maryland history for a medical malpractice case.

Medical negligence and malpractice cases like these highlight the kinds of problems that can arise whenever patients seek medical treatment in hospitals and other medical facilities. Medical errors, when incorrect procedures are undertaken or incorrect medicines are given, are two types of issues that happen, but delays in receiving critically-needed care are also problematic for patients.

These kinds of cases are clear reminders that patients and their families must be vigilant about the medical care that they receive.

The horror of suffering serious injuries or losing a loved one due to such an incident is horrifying, especially because they were in a medical facility to get help and ended up becoming the victim of a tragedy.

Patients and families aren’t doctors and they can’t know every question to ask of medical professionals in times of crisis. That’s where skilled, expert, compassionate and thorough legal representation is needed by patients and their families who have been harmed by negligence, malpractice, medical errors or omissions during their treatment.

We here at MyPhillyLawyer stand ready to assist you with your legal case if you or a loved one is ever seriously injured in a medical malpractice or related case anywhere in the United States. We represent the families of victims who die in such tragedies as well, to ensure that their families receive every penny of damages that they are eligible to receive.

Call MyPhillyLawyer at 215-227-2727 or toll-free at 1-866-920-0352 anytime and our experienced, compassionate, aggressive team of attorneys and support staff will be there for you and your family every step of the way as we manage your case through the legal system.

When Winning Matters Most, Call MyPhillyLawyer.