Las Vegas Sun

August 29, 2014

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Second suit blames UMC in death of premature baby

A Las Vegas-area woman gave birth to a premature baby who died after University Medical Center failed to properly screen and treat the woman while she was in labor, a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday charges.

The suit, filed in behalf of Latricia Richard, is the second such suit to be filed against the hospital by attorney Jacob Hafter since Dec. 23.

On Dec. 23, he sued UMC and Valley Hospital in behalf of Roshunda Abney, who alleges she didn't know she was pregnant but was in extreme pain and went more than five hours without treatment while in labor in UMC's emergency room, and then lost her baby.

After six hours at the hospital the evening of Nov. 30, UMC employees told Abney and her fiance that Abney was not going to be helped anytime soon, so they left and went to Valley Hospital & Medical Center, that lawsuit alleges. There, they allege, an employee was rude to them, giving them the impression that they would not receive care there either, the lawsuit said.

The couple went home, where Abney gave birth to Angel Dewberry, who died.

That lawsuit alleges that UMC and Valley violated the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, which requires facilities to provide emergency treatment without concern for a patient’s ability to pay.

UMC has declined comment on the cases while Valley Hospital has denied the allegations.

The new lawsuit says Richard knew she was pregnant and went to UMC's emergency department complaining of labor pains Dec. 8. She was placed in a room in the labor and delivery department and placed on an external fetal monitor, the suit says.

"She was never seen by a physician or any advanced nursing personnel. Her cervix was never checked for dilation," the suit alleges.

"She was given a sleeping aid and sent home. A few hours later, she went to her private medical doctor who checked her cervix and discovered that she was dilated and was in active labor. He sent her via ambulance to UMC, where she delivered her premature baby, who died," charges the lawsuit, which also alleges violations of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA).

"Ms. Richard, and her unborn fetus, went to two hospital emergency departments requesting care for a medical emergency, in that she was in active labor, and she was not provided screening or treatment as required under EMTALA," the suit charges.

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