The family of Angel Rivera is suing a Bronx hospital after he was ignored in the ER waiting room only to slip into a coma that he never woke up from.
In 2014, the 53-year-old Rivera went to Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx after being punched in the head during a fight with a friend. After going through triage, where nurses inspected his injuries, Lincoln Hospital staff then told Rivera to return to the waiting room for his name to be called. The hospital states that it called Rivera’s name within an hour of examining him in the triage room.
At this point, Rivera had already become unconscious and could not respond. The hospital staff apparently just assumed he had left the hospital in his dire state. A note in his medical chart states that he had left the hospital against medical advice, despite video evidence showing Rivera in the exact same seat for the entire ordeal.
A full nine hours later, the staff realized the man was unconscious and bleeding from his nose. A note in his medical chart states that he had “come back to the E.R.” again, video evidence clearly shows Rivera never left the waiting room. Unfortunately, Rivera had slipped into a coma which he would not wake up. After two years in vegetative state, Rivera finally died in 2016.
Rivera’s son, Angel Rivera Jr. told NBC News that a doctor told him that his father would be alive if hospital staff had noticed his father had become unconscious in the emergency room sooner. Another doctor, hired by Rivera’s family, reached the same conclusion – absent neglect by Lincoln Hospital, Rivera would still be alive.
The tragic ordeal is reminiscent of another death caused by neglect at another city-run hospital. In 2008, 49-year-old Esmin Green checked into the psychiatric emergency department at Kings County Hospital. While waiting for a room to open up at the facility, Green passed out on the floor. It took hospital staff almost an hour to notice and by that time it was too late.
After failing to hear anything from the hospital and unable to determine if an investigation into the tragic events leading to his Rivera’s death ever even occurred, the family is now suing the hospital. The son hopes that hospitals around the city reform their waiting room policies to prevent similar problems from having in the future.
Lincoln Hospital declined to comment on the matter citing “patient confidentiality laws.”
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