Olive View ED Triage Death: MI

For background (and some interesting comments from interested parties) see How in the World does this happen? and More on the LA death:

Via the LATimes:

Untreated Olive View patient died of a heart attack

By Jack Leonard
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
November 28, 2007
An L.A. County coroner’s spokesman confirmed Tuesday that a 33-year-old man who collapsed and died last month after waiting more than three hours at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center to be treated for chest pains had had a heart attack.
The county-run hospital in Sylmar had failed to administer a simple test to check whether Christopher Jones was having a heart attack when he walked into the emergency room Oct. 28.

Within days of Jones’ death, the county Department of Health Services announced that it was taking steps to fire the triage nurse responsible for evaluating Jones. State investigators are continuing to review the case to determine whether the hospital provided adequate treatment.

Craig Harvey, operations chief for the county coroner’s office, said Jones died from a blood clot and coronary heart disease. Pathologists also found that he had an enlarged heart.

There’s more, but it’s mostly a rehash of things already discussed (i.e., get an EKG machine and use it if your ED triages chest pain to the waiting room).

So, now we know.  And it’s fully as bad as feared.


  1. As bad as this is I find it appalling that the hospitals answer is to fire the triage nurse. In my experience, the only reason a patient is triaged back to the lobby is because his vital signs are stable, he looks good and there are no beds. We all know why there are no beds, the hospital is full and the ER is holding admitted patients, the consulting docs are taking their own sweet time coming to admit their patients and so on and so on and so on. Instead of owning up to all the processes that clog up the ER they are going to sacrifice a nurse. Of course.

    As ER’s become more and more impacted, as ER’s across the country close we are going to start seeing this happen more and more….is a nurse always going to be the scapegoat or will hospital administrators actually get a clue and start trying to fix the processes outside of the ER that is causing ER overcrowding?

  2. ERNursey,
    I agree that sacking one triage nurse as a sacrificial offering isn’t the right response; I will say that nurse is probably done being in triage for a few years.

    I also completely agree this is a system problem, is multifactorial, and needs to be addressed. Not holding my breath on that, though.