A coroner’s jury in Illinois has ruled that the death of a 49 year old woman while she waited in an emergency room in Lake County, Ill was a homicide. The woman, Beatrice Vance, entered the hospital emergency room in July of 2006, complaining of neasea, shortness of breath and chest pain. Ms. Vance spoke briefly to a nurse upopn arriving and was told to sit and wait for her admission. Two hours later her name was called and it was discovered that Ms. Vance had suffered a massive heart attack in the waiting room and was dead.
Lake County, Ill. coroner Dr. Richard Keller stated that Ms. Vance presented to the ER with “classic syptoms of a heart attack” and “should have been in the emergency department much quicker and received the care that we have in modern medicine.”
The ruling of homocide in Ms. Vance’s death is potentially groundbreaking, as it allows for criminal prosecution for her death. According to Dr. Keller, “[t]he definition of homicide that I give to the jury is either a willful or wanton act or recklessness on the part os someone, whether that’s by their actions or their inactions.” The investigator’s jury determined that this death qualified as per that definition.
Long waits in emergency rooms, like the one in this instance, are becoming commonplace nationwide. The average wait is now nearly four hours. However, ER staff are supposed to give immediate treatment to those that require immediate attention. According to the American Heart Association a person presenting with syptoms of a heart attack should be put on cardiac monitoring immediately and should receive an electrocardiagram within 10 minutes of their arrival at the ER.
None of these steps were performed for Ms. Vance.