In Maryland, the family of a heart patient who died while trapped in a hospital bathroom has reached a wrongful death settlement with Washington Adventist Hospital. Jose Valladares died in 2006.
He went to the bathroom in his room and locked the door. He experienced a cardiac event while using the toilet. The heart monitor he was using showed that his heart rate had decreased.
Hospital staffers in the area were unable to unlock the door immediately because they didn’t have a key. EMS workers and the Montgomery County Fire department broke down the door a number of minutes later but by then Valladares was already dead.
He had been admitted to the Takoma Park hospital just four days before. Washington Adventist Hospital has said that soon after Valladares’s death, all locks were taken off the bathroom doors in the hospital.
Maryland hospitals and nursing homes are supposed to make sure that there are no hazards or unsafe conditions on the premise that could cause injury or death to patients, residents, and visitors. Sick, mentally challenged, elderly, and frail residents are also more susceptible to injury in certain situations than healthier, younger people, which is why long-term care facilities, hospitals, and medical centers must make sure that they make allowances for all possible eventualities to keep everyone safe from harm.
Examples of hazards that could be grounds for a premises liability lawsuit against a hospital or a nursing home:
• Slippery or uneven floors
• Defective beds
• Inadequate security
• Staircases lacking the appropriate handrails
• Exposure to hazardous substances or unsanitary conditions
Family of trapped bathroom patient settles with hospital, WTOP.com, April 20, 2009
Related Web Resources:
Premises Liability Overview, Justia