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Investigation finds standard of care not met in case of woman who died after hours-long ER wait

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- A Milwaukee woman's death after a lengthy wait in the ER triggered a federal investigation of Froedtert Hospital. 

Now, the family of Shonna Ward is considering suing.

In this report, the Federal Department of Health and Human Services looked at the cases of 20 Froedtert ER patients. 

Seven of them, including Shonna, weren't checked on as often as they should've been under hospital policy.

When Tashonna Ward went to the ER in January with shortness of breath and chest pain, an X-ray showed an enlarged heart. 

Two and a half hours later, she left, never having been seen by a doctor, and died later that night.

Froedtert policy says she should've had her vitals reassessed every 30 minutes.

A complaint led to a federal investigation of 20 ER patients in December and January. 

The standard of care was not met for seven of those, including Shonna and a patient who attempted a suicide drug and alcohol overdose. That person went five hours between assessments, when it should've been 30 minutes.

In spite of the deficiencies that were found, the report's conclusion was that Froedtert was "in substantial compliance" and allows for the hospital to continue receiving federal funding.

A Froedtert spokesperson said in a statement, "There was no failure in the reassessment of patients. The reassessments were delayed due to high capacity."

Froedtert's ER treated an average of 200 patients a day last year. But the Wards are focused on just one -- Shonna, and they're looking into a potential negligence lawsuit.

The following is Froedtert Hospital's full statement:

"The Ward family continues to be in our thoughts and has our deepest sympathy.

Froedtert Hospital “was found to be in substantial compliance” with CMS standards. There was no failure in the reassessment of patients. The reassessments were delayed due to high capacity.

Emergency Department capacity is a very real issue, both at Froedtert Hospital and nationwide. With a focus on delivering excellent care and being the only level-one trauma center in Southeast Wisconsin, Froedtert Hospital healthcare services are always in high demand.

In 2019, Froedtert Hospital’s Emergency Department treated over 72,000 patients —that is an average of 200 visits per day—and volumes have continued to be high in 2020. We have invested tens of millions of dollars in our Emergency Department and continue to focus on strategies to more quickly and efficiently connect our patients to the care they need.

While we remain limited in our ability to respond to every question in light of patient privacy and legal obligations, our team continues to work hard each day toward our goal of providing the best care to every patient, every time."


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Lawrence 34 days ago
The patient has responsibilities too.
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