Friday, January 08, 2010

Kings County Hospital Submits To Consent Decree For Court Oversight In Green Case

In the hopes of averting what would otherwise be a massive lawsuit by civil liberties groups, Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn, NY, will submit to five years of court supervision to ensure that conditions improve at the facility. the consent decree is part of the fallout from the heinous death of Esmin Green who died in a psychiatric ward waiting area while hospital employees ignored her plight for almost an hour.
Under the court settlement, KCH has agreed to more reforms including: banning psychiatric ER stays beyond 24 hours; using restraints only when patients pose an imminent threat to themselves or to others; protecting whistleblowers; paying attention to patient grievances; making staff more accountable and preventing patients from continually cycling through the hospital by starting appropriate discharge planning.

Staff at KCH could face criminal charges for allegedly faking medical records and lying as they scrambled to cover up their apparent neglect of Green, who died of a blood clot, according to a devastating report by the city's Department of Investigation and law enforcement sources.

"The systematic reform outlined in this settlement should ensure that another tragedy, like the one that claimed Esmin Green's life, never happens at this hospital again," said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, which had sued KCH along with Mental Hygiene Legal Services and Kirkland & Ellis LLP.

The consent decree is an attempt to avoid further litigation and help bring the hospital into compliance with basic standards, though the standards are pretty much common sense - common sense and basic human decency that was sorely lacking throughout this entire episode on behalf of hospital employees. The City and the hospital had agreed to a $2 million settlement with Green's family.

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