Woman claims calls ignored by staff, sues Medical Center

Marilyn Tennissen Jan. 24, 2008, 12:00pm

After falling several times, having her calls ignored and making a mess with a bedpan, Pamela Prunty was fed up with the Medical Center of Southeast Texas and had herself discharged.

On Jan. 22, Prunty filed a medical malpractice suit against the hospital in Jefferson County District Court.

According to the plaintiff's original complaint, on Jan. 22, 2006, Prunty experienced a "health emergency" and was transported to the Medical Center of Southeast Texas in Port Arthur for observation and consultation.

The next day, Prunty says she woke up feeling "lethargic and disoriented" and rang the call button to summon a nurse to help her get out of bed and walk to the bathroom.

"She repeatedly received no response and was forced to use a bedpan without assistance, causing a disgusting mess," the complaint states.

The woman says she tried to get out of bed to clean herself and had to remove her heart monitor and lower the bed rails which set off alarms.

"When Pamela Prunty attempted to stand, she fell," the complaint states. "There was no response from any of the hospital staff to Pamela Prunty's call to the nurses' station, her heart monitor alarm or her bedrail alarm."

Prunty's mother helped her to the bathroom and back into bed.

Then Prunty called a nurse and requested that she be discharged from the hospital. The complaint says the discharge was approved by Dr. Sreedhar Palavarapu.

"The nurse then removed the IV from Pamela Prunty's arm," the petition continues. "When Pamela Prunty stood up, she again slipped on the IV fluid the nurse allowed to drip on the floor, hit the side of the bed and then again fell on the floor."

The suit states that Prunty was subsequently discharged from the Medical Center and wheeled out of the hospital.

"Pamela Prunty's falls caused injury to her back, inter alia, and resulted in surgery," the plaintiff claims.

The suit claims that the Medical Center of Southeast Texas was negligent in the following ways:

  • Failure to exercise an appropriate standard of care;
  • Failure to do that which a reasonably prudent health care provider would or would not have done under the same or similar circumstances;
  • Failure to treat plaintiff's condition properly;
  • Failure to adequately staff;
  • Failure to adequately train; and
  • Other acts of negligence as will become known during discovery.

    The hospital is also vicariously liable for the acts or omissions of its medical personnel, the suit claims.

    Prunty is seeking past and future medical expenses and costs of care, past and future pain and suffering, attorney's fees, expenses, interest court costs and exemplary and/or punitive damages of at least $75,000.

    David P. Matthews of Matthews & Associates in Houston is representing the plaintiff.

    The case has been assigned to District Judge Bob Wortham.

    Case No. A181-050

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