A 58-year-old man died of cardiac arrest after waiting 19 hours in the emergency room, the Dallas Morning News reported Monday.
Mike Herrera, who helped his family start a chain of restaurants, went to Parkland Memorial Hospital just after 5 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 19 complaining of a stabbing sensation in his stomach.
There were 164 people ahead of him. Another 180 new patients would walk through the ER doors during the next 19 hours.
A surveillance video obtained by the Dallas Morning News showed that Herrera continued to wait in a chair, until 9:26 a.m. Saturday, when a physician finally ordered laboratory tests and an x-ray.
When Herrera’s sister arrived after noon, he went into cardiac arrest. Medical staff worked for more than two hours on him, but by 2:48 p.m. he was pronounced dead.
Parkland officials said they did everything possible to help Herrera – and even if he had been seen sooner, he may have been sent home.
A 2004 study on Parkland Memorial showed that more than one in 10 patients left the ER before seeing a doctor.
In the last four years, that ratio increased to one in five. Parkland officials said the hospital simply does not have enough beds.
Herrera’s autopsy concluded that Herrera died of clogged arteries. Diabetes and morbid obesity also played contributing factors, but Herrera’s family strongly believes he could have survived if he had been treated sooner.
“The guy wasn’t going to die anyway,” the family’s attorney Robert Hinton told the newspaper. “And even if he were going to die sometime soon, you shouldn’t make him go through that misery, and inflect that misery on the entire family while he dies in front of you.”