United Regional Hospital has a fight on its hands. The families of two patients filed suit in Federal District Court alleging unfair treatment because they had no insurance.
At the heart of the lawsuits is the Federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act. The act is meant to ensure public access to emergency services regardless of the ability to pay.
In the first suit, the family of then 9-year-old Talon Mann said he was admitted to the emergency department on December 10, 2008 complaining of, among other things, vomiting, arm weakness and paralysis.
According to the complaint a United Regional physician recognized Talon's symptoms as being consistent with "the presence of an underlying upper motor neuron disease process."
The suit also alleges "at no point.....did URHCS staff....provide uninsured Talon with a complete physical examination..."
Talon's family said in the suit, he was discharged with a diagnosis of stomach flu, despite no sign of improvement in his symptoms. Talon's condition worsened, and his family brought him back to United Regional nine days later.
He was transferred to Cook Children's Hospital where an MRI showed he had an arteriovenous malformation, a condition that can cause permanent neurological damage. The suit indicates Talon suffers from permanent injuries, which include spastic quadriplegia.
In the second suit, the family of Judy Lanette Collins says she went to the ED on October 18, 2008, complaining of chest pain and shortness of breath.
The suit alleges Collin's received "an inadequate triage assessment," and waited nearly two hours for a triage EKG, the results of which were consistent with myocardial ischemia.
Despite that result, and other conditions the suit alleges United Regional staff were aware of, the complaint indicates Collins was never given a bed. Her son said he even asked if he should take his mother elsewhere for treatment. The complaint indicates they were told to stay at United Regional.
Collins collapsed and died in the waiting room.
Along with United Regional, the suits also name Titanium Emergency Group LLP, who contracts with the hospital to provide emergency department services, and several Titanium physicians.
United Regional Public Information Officer Kim Maddin said the hospital can't comment on the cases, citing pending legislation. Jennifer Andrews, the attorney representing Titanium Emergency Group, was not available for comment Thursday.