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|Posted on January 11, 2015 at 12:55 AM|
Family of man who died in hospital ER bathroom files $1.5-million lawsuit
Jan 09, 2015 - 5:49 PM EST
Last Updated: Jan 09, 2015 - 7:04 PM EST
Family of a Windsor man who was in a wheelchair and died in a Windsor Regional Hospital emergency room bathroom have filed a $1.5-million lawsuit in Superior Court.
The lawsuit — seeking $500,000 in damages and $1 million in punitive and aggravated damages — was filed by lawyer Martina Dwyer on behalf of two sisters of 48-year-old Clifford Ford Jr., who died in the early morning of Nov. 9, 2013.
Aside from the hospital, the lawsuit citing negligence has named several parties as defendants – physicians, nurses, security and housekeeping staff — who were working the night when Ford checked into the ER on Nov. 8 around 10:30 p.m. at the Ouellette Campus of Windsor Regional Hospital.
Ford — who was slightly physically and mentally challenged — used a wheelchair because his left leg and right big toe were lost due to diabetes. He was deaf in one ear.
He checked into the ER that night with a cyst on his head. It was his third visit in a week.
Dwyer did not wish to comment on the lawsuit Friday as she was still awaiting a legal response from the hospital and other parties.
The only statement of defence filed to date in court was by local lawyer Tom Serafimovski on behalf of security company G4S Secure Solutions, which has denied any negligence or breach of duty by hospital security staff the night Ford died.
Windsor Regional issued a brief email statement Friday in response to the lawsuit.
“We continue to send our condolences to the family,” said CEO David Musyj. “We have provided all the information in our possession regarding this unfortunate incident to the family even before litigation started.
“We have expressed in the past how we have changed our practices to ensure access to the bathrooms in the emergency departments in the evening hours is monitored. As a result of the litigation we cannot say anything further and will continue to participate fully in the litigation process.”
Hospital security videos detail many of the events that transpired on the night Ford died, according to the family’s lawsuit. It shows him being assessed by triage nurses for the abscess on his forehead at about 10:40 p.m., then being directed to the waiting room.
The suit claims the video shows Ford wheeling himself to the bathroom at 11 p.m. He failed to respond when nurses called for him in the waiting room for further treatment at around 11:55 p.m.
Ford resided for 20 years with a sister, had a girlfriend, but no children.
Ford’s girlfriend phoned the ER at around midnight to check on his condition, but nursing staff provided her no answers, according to the lawsuit. She called again at 1:30 a.m. expressing worry, but staff again provided her no details.
Ford was not discovered until being found unresponsive by a custodian in the locked bathroom at 5 a.m., according to his family’s statement of claim. The custodian summoned medical personnel, but Ford was pronounced dead 15 minutes later.
ER physicians are being accused of failing to properly review Ford’s medical history and charts, in part leading to his head wound and deteriorating health throughout the week of his death.
The lawsuit claims that a primary medical prescription Ford received from ER physicians causes negative reactions with diabetes. They also failed to call for any community care help for Ford at his residence or order sufficient tests, the suit claims.
The suit also claims that ER triage nurses failed to properly assess the seriousness of Ford’s condition or monitor his whereabouts on the night of his death, while security and housekeeping staff are being accused of failing to check on the bathroom during their rounds.
None of the lawsuit’s allegations have been proven in court.
Shortly after his death, Ford’s sister, Rayann Ford-Klein — one of the plaintiffs — told The Star: “It’s really heart-wrenching.”
Ford-Klein called her brother her best friend.
“My brother lived with me the last 20 years. I don’t know how I can live without him. Every day I look for him and he’s not here.”