NEW YORK – The family of a woman who died on a hospital floor, struggling to get up while staffers ignored her, has settled a wrongful-death lawsuit against the city for $2 million.
But the family of Esmin Green, whose death was recorded on a hospital security video, still is awaiting a full investigation into what happened at the Kings County Hospital Center in Brooklyn, family lawyer Sanford Rubenstein said Wednesday.
"What remains most important to this family is the criminal culpability for those responsible for what happened and those who attempted to cover it up," Rubenstein said.
Green, a 49-year-old psychiatric patient, had been in a waiting room at the city-owned hospital for nearly 24 hours when she collapsed on June 19, 2008. Neither fellow patients nor the hospital's staff moved to help her, even as she thrashed her legs on the floor and tried to get up. Two security guards and a member of the hospital's medical staff can be seen on the video stopping to look at her briefly before walking away.
Green stopped moving after about 30 minutes. She was on the floor for an hour before a nurse checked her pulse. The medical examiner said she suffered from blood clots.
Six hospital employees lost their jobs over the incident, and the video prompted national outrage when it became public soon after.
The U.S. Department of Justice cited Green's death among other abuses in a February report that documented a pattern of what investigators said was "inadequate care," violence among patients and sexual abuse at Kings County.
That report became public when Alan Aviles, president of the city's Health and Hospitals Corp., announced reforms at the hospital including the replacement of its top two administrators and the addition of 200 medical personnel to its 600-member staff.
Aviles said the improvements would shorten the average time patients wait in the psychiatric emergency room to eight hours, down from 27 hours.
Aviles said Wednesday's settlement with the Green family was "not meant to put a value on a life and the loss of a loved one."
"The indelible memory of this tragedy will spur us to fulfill our promise to create a national model of patient-centered mental health services at Kings County Hospital," he said in a statement.