Investigation - Denton hospital lawsuit - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

Investigation - Denton hospital lawsuit

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DENTON, Texas -

A former employee is accusing a Denton hospital of not only neglecting a patient, but attempting a cover up after a man died in the emergency room.

Richard Evans, a husband and father, was taken to Denton Regional Medical Center in 2013. He had constipation. Hours later, he was dead. 

A former employee at the hospital claims the hospital fired her because she was trying to tell the truth about what really happened to Evans.

"She said, ‘I was there. I worked the night your husband died,'" Regina Evans, Richard's wife said. "She told me everything."

Regina is talking about the day a former hospital employee just showed up at her door and started telling her about the night her husband ended up in the emergency room.

"I did not know what to say. Are you kidding?" Regina said. "What kind of a business are you running? What is going on?"

Sharla Hendrix says neglect is what was going on. 

She was working as the emergency room unit coordinator that night, and FOX 4 has learned she is suing the hospital, claiming she reported the abuse or neglect of Richard Evans, and the hospital fired her. 

The hospital is denying the allegations.

Richard was rushed to Denton Regional in May 2013 with abdominal pain.

Regina says he was constipated, but within a few hours, her 57-year-old husband was dead. 

Records show Evans was placed on the less critical side of the emergency room and given six doses of morphine.

The autopsy concluded Evans died from a blockage, and the medical examiner told the family the hospital should never have administered the morphine, because it exaggerated his problem.

"I don't like to advise people to sue anybody, but there is a question of medical negligence," Dr. Lloyd White told the family in a meeting the family recorded. "It is not the morphine, it is missing the diagnosis. I don't understand how they missed it. They just plain missed it."

Hendrix claims she had "personal knowledge of the neglect" of Evans and "efforts made by the charge nurse and staff nurse to modify the patient's medical record after the patient's death." 

Documents say she reported that to her supervisor on "multiple occasions." They go on to say "the charge nurse and the director of the emergency room instructed" Hendrix to "never mention the incidents that lead to Evan's death again or reveal anything to anyone about" Evan's "care and the circumstances surrounding his death."

"You get fired for doing what you are supposed to do?" Regina said. "So I guess she would have kept her job if she would have just shut up and said she didn't see anything."

Richard's brother, Winn, says he is relieved Hendrix came forward.

"She pretty much validates what we thought in the beginning," Winn Evans said.

Hendrix and her attorney both declined to talk to FOX 4 about the lawsuit.  A spokesperson for the hospital provided this statement:

"The care provided to Richard Evans was appropriate. We send our sympathies to the Evans' family.  In regards to Ms. Hendrix, her employment with the Hospital ended for reasons entirely unrelated to her false allegations and we plan to defend ourselves vigorously."

The Texas Board of Nursing is taking action. It filed seven formal charges against the nurse who gave Evans the morphine.

The board says Esmeralda Rosende failed to monitor Evan's vital signs, failed to document his mental status and keep accurate records in the emergency room.

FOX 4 tried to contact Rosende, but she has moved to Florida. 

She has yet to respond to the Texas Board of Nursing. 

The family has also filed new complaints against other nurses in the ER that night, based on what they learned from Hendrix.

Regina Evans wrote the board, saying she believes one of the supervising nurses left the hospital to smoke at a nearby convenience store while her husband was dying in the ER.

"I think every day that passes, when we get new information and new light is shed on the situation, we are closer to getting that justice," Winn Evans said.

"We are not going to stop until justice is served for Richard," Regina said.

The family also filed a complaint against the ER doctor with the Texas Medical Board.

The board dismissed it, saying the morphine prescribed was appropriate and the doctor met the standard of care. 

The family is appealing that decision.

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