Rice, 24, died in 2006, while in Denver City Jail, 20 hours after she was released from a hospital. She had suffered a lacerated spleen and liver and bled to death from injuries she received in a drunken-driving crash.
The family of Emily Rice, who died while in custody at the Jail, reached a $4 million settlement with Denver Health Medical Center. Denver Health also agreed to significant changes in patient screening and treatment at both the medical center and the jail.
Denver Health agreed to make changes particularly checking patients for vital signs at intake and release and every four hours.
Denver Health was cited for failing to diagnose and treat Rice’s abdominal injuries before sending her to the Denver jail.
After she was taken by ambulance to Denver Health, Rice complained of pain to her shoulder and abdomen.
But the medical staff did not follow up with a physical examination of Rice’s abdomen before she was transferred to the jail. Denver Health failed to provide Rice adequate medical screening; failed to ensure that Rice received adequate assessment and treatment to stabilize her medical condition; and failed to ensure that her medical condition was stabilized before she was transferred to the jail.
Such deficiencies violate the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, designed to guard against hospitals dumping patients.
Legal Analysis: After motor vehicle accidents severe internal injuries can occur, and the only way to avoid cases like this is to have a high index of suspicion and to observe the patient in an in patient setting.