Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital has lost a medical malpractice lawsuit that was filed by the family of a woman who had been in a coma since 2015. The family of the woman sued the hospital due to an incident when the woman went into cardiac arrest after being discharged and entering the emergency room waiting area.

The woman, Cynthia Gutierrez, was 33 at the time and a reported narcotic. She was experiencing signs of heart failure which the family claimed that the hospital ignored. She had labored breathing, kidney failure and was a diabetic, according to the lawsuit.

Gutierrez was a low-income resident who was covered under Medi-Cal. The lawsuit claims that the hospital has a history of avoiding the care of indigent patients.

“When doctors do not maintain the expected standard of care and patients are injured, recent studies reveal that more than 70% would try to conceal their role in the medical error, minimize the incident, and offer little to no information about the mistake. Most wouldn’t even apologize,” explains Steinberg Goodman & Kalish.

The lawsuit was slated to go public in November, but the two parties settled out of court for $3.8 million.

Gutierrez remains under care and is not expected to regain consciousness. She is married and has three children.

The terms of the settlement do not permit hospital officials to discuss the details of the case. Hospital representatives do claim that hospital staff serve anyone that comes into the emergency room despite their economic position or if the person has insurance.

The lawsuit claims that the hospital made grave missteps when Gutierrez arrived at the hospital. Her husband is said to have brought her to the hospital because she had labored breathing since the day prior.

Her blood sugar levels, according to medical tests, were dangerously high. The tests and chest X-rays that the woman received are said to have shown that there was “evidence of heart failure.” Dilaudid, a narcotic, was given to her by the emergency department. The family claims that the narcotic was a poor choice because it is a respiratory depressant.

Gutierrez already had difficulty breathing when she entered the emergency room.

Doctors discharged her and while she was in the waiting room, she collapsed. Laws require anyone that enters an emergency room to be properly treated and stabilized before being discharged. Gutierrez was found to be suffering from diabetic ketoacidosis at the time of her collapse. The complaint suggests that the hospital provided Gutierrez with pain medication and discharged her without providing the proper care.

Many times lawsuits like this can be prevented by proper communication and diagnosis. Many institutions are turning to services like Providertech which allow communication between the hospital or practice and the home to set up appointments and other information, which can be crucial to doctors being able to practice in an organized, professional manner.

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