Los Angeles County supervisors have agreed to pay $3 million to settle a lawsuit brought by the children of Edith Isabel Rodriguez, the woman who died after writhing in pain for 45 minutes on the waiting-room floor of Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital.
Rodriguez’s death nearly two years ago attracted national attention, becoming a symbol of an indifferent emergency system. Her lack of treatment was a key event precipitating the closure of the long-troubled Willowbrook hospital after federal regulators determined that staffers had failed to deliver a minimum standard of care.
The sad fact is that this had to happen to draw attention to our failing health care system. Ms Rodriquez was parked in the emergency room lobby in a wheelchair. She fell to the floor and lay in pain, having convulsions. The emergency room camera captured the image of staffers, working at their desks and some patients looked on.
Aside from one patient who briefly checked on her condition, no one helped her. A janitor cleaned the floor around her as if she were a piece of furniture.