Lawsuit filed against Cape Fear Valley Medical Center and security for patient’s death www.privateofficer.com
The hospital never reported the April 17 death of Andre Walker to Fayetteville police, who say they found out about it only after the state Medical Examiner’s Office contacted them Sept. 6.
Now police are investigating Walker’s death as a negligent homicide, and Walker’s mother has filed a lawsuit, alleging that the hospital and the security guards acted negligently.
The lawsuit, filed by Valerie Walker of Fayetteville, said the health system, AlliedBarton Security Services, five security guards and four emergency room staff members are culpable in the death of her 27-year-old son.
The lawsuit says that as her son lay dying, emergency room staff did not attempt to resuscitate him quickly enough.
Cape Fear Valley officials declined to comment Friday on Walker’s death or the lawsuit. A representative of AlliedBarton responded to phone calls Friday but did not provide a comment.
Police spokesman Gavin MacRoberts said the department would not release surveillance video from the hospital because it is considered evidence while the investigation continues.
The lawsuit was filed Sept. 29 in Cumberland County Superior Court. According to the suit:
Andre Walker, who suffered from schizophrenia, had been taken to the emergency room by an ambulance a little after 5 p.m. on April 17.
Walker had been acting strange that day, possibly because he had stopped taking his medications. Valerie Walker called 911, and an ambulance arrived to pick him up.
Ambulance workers said Walker had not experienced any hallucinations on the ride over, and he voluntarily agreed to go to the hospital.
Notes by rescue workers indicate that he “seemed quiet and paranoid” during the ride.
When he arrived at the hospital, medical records noted that he was “agitated, nervous and paranoid.”
One of the doctors on staff ordered medication for Walker and decided to commit him to the first mental hospital with space.
But as time went on and no hospital with a room was found, Walker became increasingly agitated and aggressive with the staff.
Walker tried to leave and was restrained by security guards.
The medical staff left the area after realizing that the security guards might need to use force.
One of the guards put Walker in a choke hold and pulled him to the floor.
Three other guards grabbed parts of Walker’s body and got on top of him.
A surveillance video from the hospital showed that Walker became nonresponsive after a few minutes of struggle.
After that, two security guards appeared to check Walker’s vital signs. Medical records indicated the security guards told the attending nurse that he was no longer resisting.
For about 90 seconds after the struggle began, security guards hovered over Walker, and hospital staff and security guards continued to enter and exit the room.
At 9:17:51 p.m., the security guards placed Walker on a stretcher. Nurses and guards undressed him and secured leather restraints to his arms and legs.
At 9:21 p.m., medical staff checked Walker’s vital signs. A nurse brought a “resuscitation bag” to the room at 9:23:15 p.m., and handed it to a security guard. (A resuscitation bag is a hand-held device used to provide ventilation to someone who is not breathing, or not breathing adequately.)
The security guard attempted to resuscitate Walker using the bag, but was unsuccessful.
Walker was then taken to another room, where a futile attempt was made to resuscitate him at 9:23:31 p.m.
A nurse noted in medical records that the resuscitation bag was being used or placed on Walker as he was taken into the room, but that he was without a pulse when he arrived there.
But the surveillance video showed he “was not bagged” on his way to the resuscitation room.
Friday afternoon, James E. Rogers, a Durham lawyer representing Valerie Walker, said he was in discussions with health system officials. He declined further comment.