A 22-year-old mother from Ohio checked herself into Phoenix's Serenity Care Center, a state-licensed drug detox center on Oct. 7 in hopes of getting help for her addiction to opioids. Staff members denied her continued requests to be transferred to a local hospital to be evaluated for her declining health. Within days, she was dead. Her story has left many wondering if her death could have been avoided.
Despite the woman requesting to be taken to a local hospital at least three times, a Maricopa County Sheriff's Office report shows that the staff at the facility she was living at did nothing until the very end.
By the time paramedics were called, she was lethargic and jaundiced, her lips had turned purple, she was wheezing and was complaining of a cracking sound in her lungs. Despite having these alarming symptoms, she was given prescriptions and told to return to her room without ever having been transported to the hospital.
A short time later, the staff found her dead in her room. She died after she'd collapsed there. An autopsy later revealed that she'd died of "septic complications of acute bronchopneumonia in the setting of heroin toxicity".
The woman's family calls the lack of medical care that the woman received a travesty. They say that the facility's workers turned a blind eye to her pleas for them to help save her life. They argue that they should have known better than to do that, especially since individuals trying to withdrawal from drugs are more vulnerable than others to having medical emergencies. They plan to file a lawsuit against them for the death.
Data published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration shows that in 2015 alone, nearly 1.5 million Americans received treatment for substance abuse issues in both inpatient and outpatient settings. In a state like California, nearly 150 deaths were reported at these facilities in 2014.
When an individual is sent to be weaned off drugs at a residential facility, their loved ones expect them to be taken care of, not to have their medical condition worsen or for them to die. Drug treatment facilities have an obligation to protect their residents' health. If they withhold necessary medical care, then a Tucson attorney may advise you that you're entitled to compensation for their negligence.