UMC moves to fire six employees in probe of ignored patient

University Medical Center officials have moved to fire six employees involved in the care of a pregnant Las Vegas woman who went untreated in the emergency room for six hours.

The employees were all suspended pending termination proceedings for their roles in 25-year-old Roshunda Abney's Nov. 30 visit to the hospital, said Kathy Silver, the hospital's chief executive officer.

She would not identify the employees by name or job because the termination proceedings were ongoing.

Abney went to UMC with severe abdominal pain and went untreated despite pleading for help and moaning in pain. Abney and her fiancé eventually left the hospital and, after a brief visit to nearby Valley Hospital Medical Center, went home, where she gave birth to a premature baby girl. Paramedics revived the baby, named Angel, and took her to UMC, where she was pronounced dead, according to Abney's lawyer, Jacob Hafter.

"This will not be tolerated at UMC," Silver said.

Hafter said Friday that the hospital's actions are just a first step toward addressing patient care problems at the county-run hospital.

"It's our hope that these suspensions are not just lip service, that there is an actual process in place to fix the malignant problems at UMC," he said.

He said Abney and her fiancé, Raffinee Dewberry, were still grieving the death of their daughter.

On the day of the incident, the couple first went to a Quick Care clinic seeking treatment of Abney's pain.

A doctor performed a brief physical and ordered a urinalysis and urine pregnancy test, but Abney was unable to urinate. She was transferred to UMC for "higher care," according to patient records.

Abney, who said she didn't know she was pregnant, went to UMC and waited. As the night wore on, other patients in the waiting room volunteered to let Abney go ahead of them, said Victoria Taylor, one of those patients.

Abney and Dewberry left after six hours, saying they were convinced they would not get the help she needed. They went to nearby Valley Hospital Medical Center, but she said she was in too much pain to fill out the required paperwork. The couple said Valley officials suggested to them that if they had waited so long without help at UMC, they should not expect things to be different there.

The couple picked up some pain medication and went home. Twenty minutes later, Abney went to the bathroom and gave birth to the girl, Angel, who weighed 1 pound 6 ounces.

The hospital's investigation included interviews with staffers, reviews of patient records and viewings of hospital video recordings taken that night.

"We're doing everything we can to sort out the events of what happened," Silver said.

The investigation was ongoing and more employees could be disciplined, she said.

"We don't like the fact we didn't live up to the expectations of our patients," she said.

Valley Hospital officials have denied the couple's allegations.

Contact reporter Brian Haynes at bhaynes@review or 702-383-0281.