Healthcare News & Insights

Hospital vows to retrain staff, revise policies after patient dies in waiting room

Emergency department staff who didn’t know — or didn’t follow — standard procedure were found responsible for the loss of a patient.

At 10:45 p.m. on Nov. 28, 2009, Joaquin Rivera went to the ED at Aria Health’s Frankford campus in Philadelphia complaining of pain on the left side of his chest. At 10:56 p.m., security cameras show he stopped moving.

At 11:03 p.m., a hospital staffer went to the door of the waiting room, called his name and noticed that he was “staring” at the opposite wall.

No medical staff checked on his condition until another patient told a staffer that Rivera was dead — and his body had been robbed by a loiterer in the waiting room.

A state investigation determined that hospital staff weren’t properly trained on appropriate protocols for triaging and processing emergency patients.

Aria Health agreed to make a number of changes, including retraining staff on procedures, providing 24/7 security in the waiting area, and setting a time frame for recalling patients. The hospital will also mark with tape the spot in the waiting area to which staffers must walk when they’re checking on patients.

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