Hospital Blamed for Disoriented Mom's Death
SAN ANTONIO (CN) - A hospital discharged a mother of two who was "talking to imaginary people" and ran onto the freeway an hour later, was hit by a bus and died, the woman's family claims in court.
Family of Raquel Wallace sued Methodist Healthcare System of San Antonio Ltd. dba Methodist Specialty & Transplant Hospital, Greater San Antonio Emergency Physicians PA and two doctors in Federal Court.
Wallace, a 30-year-old unemployed nurse, was taken by ambulance to Methodist Hospital at 7:05 p.m. on Sept. 16, 2011, according to the lawsuit.
"EMS personnel informed the Methodist Specialty & Transplant Hospital ER triage nurse that they had to force entry into Ms. Wallace's house, and that she was found hiding in her closet stating she was playing with people in the closet," Wallace's mother and the father of her two children claim.
Wallace allegedly told staff that she did not have insurance or a job.
"Wallace informed the Methodist Specialty & Transplant Hospital ER nurse that she was an alcoholic, she stopped drinking two days earlier, she was having blackouts and tremors, and she felt 'jumpy,'" according to the complaint.
"Ms. Wallace informed the Methodist Specialty & Transplant Hospital that she had auditory and visual hallucinations, she had not slept in the past three days, and she was not suicidal."
Doctors diagnosed her with alcohol-withdrawal syndrome and psychosis, and gave her Ativan, an anti-anxiety drug, her family says.
A nurse then gave Wallace a cab voucher, and she was discharged at 10:42 p.m., the family claims.
"Wallace got in a Yellow Cab, and they drove away," according to the lawsuit. "The cab driver noted that she was acting strange and talking to imaginary people. Ms. Wallace asked the cab driver to 'take her to dark spaces.'"
Fearing for her safety, the cab driver took her back to Methodist Hospital, the family claims.
Wallace asked the emergency room nurse "if she could stay at the ER and be given some Ativan because she just didn't want to go home and have the stick come through her wall again," according to the complaint.
But the nurse called another cab, and a security guard urged the driver to take Wallace or she would be thrown off the property, Wallace's family claims.
"The second cab driver noted that Ms. Wallace was talking to people that were not there, and that she was acting like a lunatic," her family says. "She was dropped off at 337 University. She asked the cab driver to walk her to the back of the house. A dog came out so the cab driver explained that he could not go any further, and he walked back to his cab. He then saw a shadow and thought Ms. Wallace was running away.
"Approximately 70 minutes after Ms. Wallace was placed in the second cab, she was noted to be disoriented and waving her hands while running toward a bus on Interstate 10.
Wallace was hit by a bus and then a car, and sustained multiple blunt-force injuries, including fractures of the skull, ribs, sternum, pelvis and right leg, pulmonary contusions and lacerations, her family says.
She was taken to University Hospital where she was pronounced dead after 40 minutes of attempts to resuscitate her, the lawsuit states.
Palmira Arellano, vice president of marketing and public relations for Methodist Healthcare, said the company could not comment "due to patient confidentiality."
"We are also unable to comment on any case in which there is pending litigation," Arellano told Courthouse News.
Wallace's family wants damages for wrongful death, gross negligence and violations of the Emergency Medical Treatment & Labor Act.
They are represented by Colleen Carboy of Lewisville, Texas.