Report: Ignored LA patient could have been saved

LOS ANGELES - December 4, 2008 The report, obtained by the Los Angeles Times when it was briefly and inadvertently made public in a court filing, said 43-year-old Edith Rodriguez "could have been saved, at least in the early part of her detention" at the troubled Martin Luther King-Harbor Hospital in May 2007. The report was prepared by an outside firm hired by Los Angeles County to look into its liability.

"This is a case of medical negligence as to the medical treatment provided by medical staff at the facility," the report said.

It concludes that the county should attempt to settle a $45 million lawsuit filed by the woman's adult children for $250,000, the same amount recently offered by county supervisors to Rodriguez's boyfriend in a separate lawsuit.

County prosecutors investigating the death earlier this year decided that the medical staff misdiagnosed Rodriguez and failed to treat her properly but were not criminally negligent. No charges were filed. "Prompt intervention would not have saved her life," prosecutors said in their report.

Rodriguez, who died of a perforated bowel, had been seen at the hospital at least six times in the month before her death and had spent 14 hours there a day earlier. The day she died she was brought inside by police officers who had found her yelling for help outside. She could be seen on security cameras lying on the floor as a janitor mopped around her and a nursed dismissed her problems.

Attorney David J. Weiss, who represents the county, declined comment when reached by the Times.

Rodriguez's death and several other instances of allegedly shoddy care cost the hospital $200 million in federal funding in 2007, and it was closed to all but outpatient care.

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