The chair of the state legislative committee on health care, concerned that emergency room workers at University Medical Center did not provide treatment to a pregnant woman who was in pain, has asked UMC’s top executive to come before the committee next week to explain the hospital’s protocols for patients who seek emergency care.
State Sen. Valerie Wiener, D-Las Vegas, said Thursday it is necessary to know from UMC CEO Kathy Silver how the hospital practices triage, the sorting of patients according to the urgency of their need for care.
Silver has agreed to testify.
“We need to know how they determine care,” Wiener said. “I don’t know what their standards and practices are. We have to find a comfort level with what they’re doing.”
On Nov. 30, Roshunda Abney, 25, and her fiance, Raffinee Dewberry, waited for six hours in the UMC emergency room despite Abney’s complaints about abdominal pain and repeated attempts by Dewberry and others in the waiting room to get UMC personnel to come to Abney’s aid.
The couple gave up hope of being seen at UMC and went to nearby Valley Hospital, where they say hospital personnel treated them rudely and suggested they wouldn’t be seen in a timely manner. Valley officials deny that hospital personnel were either unhelpful or rude.
Abney went home and gave breech birth to a baby girl, who died. Abney said she did not know she was pregnant.
A state investigation by the Nevada State Health Division has confirmed the couple’s allegations about what happened at UMC. The hospital has suspended six employees.
Jacob Hafter, a former paramedic and the attorney for Abney and Dewberry, has charged that the hospital did not follow what he has called “the basics of triage” that are supposed to be followed in every emergency room in the country. Hafter has filed a federal lawsuit against both UMC and Valley, claiming the hospitals violated the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act.
“We need to know what the hospital’s priorities are when it comes to emergency care,” Wiener said.
Last month, Wiener had Silver testify on possible identify theft at the hospital.
At that meeting, Silver revealed that people whose confidential records at University Medical Center might have been leaked to outsiders as part of a possible money making scheme have been offered the free use of a credit monitoring service so they can determine whether their personal information had been compromised.
Wiener said she welcomes public comment on how UMC handles emergency care, but noted that such comments would come at the end of the hearing which beings at 9 a.m. Wednesday at the Sawyer Building. There are 11 items on the agenda and meetings often last into the afternoon.
Until the committee determines what is going on at UMC, she said it is too early to determine what, if anything, the body might do.
She said in the past other medical issues have prompted the committee to take steps that include recommending new policies, drafting legislation, setting up task forces and sending out letters of warning.
Contact reporter Paul Harasim at pharasim@ reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2908.