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Friday, July 12, 2024 | Back issues
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Alleged Drug User Says ER Denied Her Care

NORFOLK (CN) - A Virginia woman claims in court that she was denied treatment by emergency room personnel at a local hospital because they considered her a drug addict.

In a complaint filed in Portsmouth City Circuit Court, April Reyes claims Drs. Jude Kotsko, Adrian Dews and Robin Garelick, as well as the Bon Secours Maryview and DePaul medical centers denied her medical care after she injured her hip in a fall on July 13, 2014.

According to the Feb. 9 complaint, defendant Reyes was examined by Dews, who noted that in addition to pain, she was also experiencing nausea and vomiting.

An X-ray of Reyes hip showed no abnormalities, and she was discharged with a diagnosis of hip pain, nausea and vomiting, and drug abuse.

Reyes returned to the same hospital in the early morning hours of July 14, 2014, via ambulance for, among other issues, an alleged mental health problem.

Upon arrival she was examined by defendant Kotsko, and after a mental health consultation, it was determined she was not suicidal or homicidal, the complaint says.

However, Reyes says Kotsko ordered lab tests that showed she was suffering from abnormal kidney function.

Despite the concerning lab results, she claims Kotsko discharged her only with a diagnoses of drug abuse.

Even so, she says, Kotsko sent her from the hospital with prescriptions for Naprosyn (a pain medication), Zofran (an anti-nausea medication) and Xanax, among other medications.

Later that afternoon, Reyes again returned to the DePaul emergency department, still complaining of hip and abdominal pain, vomiting, and loss of feeling in her toes. While she was being examined, Reyes admitted trying heroin for the first time earlier that day, and waking up on the floor after falling or losing consciousness.

Defendant Dews ordered X-rays of Reyes' hip, knee and tibia, but despite alleged irregularities, she allegedly discharged the plaintiff without instructions to follow-up with her primary care physician.

Reyes said Dews prescribed her more Naprosyn and noted on her chart, "I told (patient) will not give her any narcotic. She was here yesterday with polysubstance abuse. I gave her Naprosyn."

On July 16, 2016, Reyes showed up at the Maryview emergency department complaining of an "addiction problem" ("detox form Xanax"), and continued leg pain. Reyes claims defendant Garelick noted that she had "a large bruise to her calf of her left leg that is hard and throbbing," that her left hip exhibited bony tenderness and swelling, that her left knee exhibited swelling, and that her most recent clinical lab tests showed more concerning levels than the previous tests.

Nevertheless, she says, Garelick discharged her with a diagnosis of substance abuse and was "positive for Opiates and Benzoz in the ER."

On July 17, 2014, Reyes presented to Mary Immaculate Emergency Department complaining of continued pain in her left leg.

Clinical tests showed the continued decline of her vitals and was, "critically ill." Reyes was admitted to the ICU on July 17, 2014, for emergency treatment of acute renal insufficiency, deep vein thrombosis and left leg compartment syndrome.

Reyes says as a result of the poor treatment she received at the hands of the defendants, she was forced to undergo several corrective surgeries, prolonged dialysis and several weeks of hospital admission and follow-up care and treatment.

Reyes is seeking $4 million in damages.

Her attorney, David Pierce, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Lynne Zultankey, director of corporate communications and media relations for the DePaul and Maryview emergency departments declined to comment.

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