Man Released From Hospital After Having Chest Pains Dies In Hospital Lobby!
When they found Melvin A. Dillard Jr.’s body in a lobby chair at Beebe Medical Center’s emergency department on June 27, he had been there and deceased so long that rigor mortis had set in.
According to a lawsuit filed by the family of the 38-year-old, Dillard had been rushed to the Lewes hospital with chest pains a day earlier, but then was told he could go home by ER staff. Dillard then died of a heart attack, apparently while waiting for transportation. The hospital staff did not discover he had died until the next morning.
The family is now alleging medical negligence and wrongful death in a suit against Beebe and Sussex Emergency Associates, which operates the hospital’s ER department, and is seeking damages.
The family alleges that given Dillard’s symptoms and history of cardiac issues, he should have been admitted for observation that night and not sent to the lobby.
In a statement released by the hospital today, officials said that Dillard “was seen, treated appropriately following all protocols and was discharged in stable condition. While sleeping in the lobby waiting for a ride, the individual passed away.”
Beebe spokesperson Kelly Griffin said the incident was “fully disclosed” to oversite authorities and investigated. She declined further comment, citing patient privacy laws and the pending litigation.
Gilbert Shelsby Jr., the attorney representing the Dillard family, declined comment saying that the lawsuit spoke for itself.
According to Shelsby, Dillard, who lived in Newark but worked in Sussex County, experienced chest pains on June 26 and called 911.
Dillard was then taken by ambulance to Beebe and arrived at 5:33 p.m., according to court papers. The EMS unit noted that Dillard was showing signs “consistent with an impending cardiac event” and upon admission to the ER had an abnormal EKG, according to the suit.
It is unclear what happened next but Dillard was then discharged and released, with instructions to follow-up with his cardiologist, according to the suit.
Because he had arrived by ambulance, Dillard had no way to get back to work or back home and went to the lobby to wait for a ride. He apparently called a friend who was not able to get him and may have been waiting to catch a bus.
At some unknown time, Dillard then had a fatal heart attack but no one apparently noticed.
“The decedent’s lifeless body remained in the emergency room waiting area until he was found the next day,” according to the lawsuit., around 10 a.m., still sitting in a chair.
When he was found, Dillard was rushed back into the ER where he was pronounced dead. Dillard, however, had apparently been dead for several hours before he was discovered, according to the suit, because medical records indicate rigor mortis had set in. According to digital and print reference materials, rigor mortis – the stiffening of the muscles after death – takes several hours to set in.