KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A woman who died after being discharged from a Tennessee hospital and forced to leave despite her pleas for more help received appropriate medical treatment, the hospital said, but changes were being made to security procedures.
The findings from an internal investigation by Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center in Knoxville over its treatment of 60-year-old Lisa Edwards were released Tuesday, news outlets reported.
Security officers at the hospital called police Feb. 5 saying that Edwards had been evaluated and discharged, but was refusing to leave. Four responding police officers were investigated for repeatedly ignoring her pleas for help as they accused her of faking illness.
The Knox County District Attorney’s office said it would not press criminal charges against the officers after an autopsy determined that Edwards died of a stroke and that “at no time did law enforcement interaction cause or contribute to Ms. Edwards’ death.”
A video released by police showed officers struggle for about 25 minutes to move Edwards into a police van and finally a cruiser. Edwards repeatedly asks for help but is rebuffed by officers and hospital security guards who become frustrated with her inability to step up into the van and tell her she is faking her incapacity.
After she is placed in a police cruiser, video shows Edwards trying to pull herself upright repeatedly, but eventually she slumps over out of sight. Several minutes later, one of the officers performs a traffic stop on another vehicle while Edwards remains in the backseat. When he opens the rear door, Edwards is unresponsive. He calls dispatch for an ambulance, telling them, “I don’t know if she’s faking it or what, but she’s not answering me.”
Edwards was pronounced dead at the Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center the following day.
The hospital said it conducted a thorough internal investigation of Edwards’ care and found that her “medical treatment and hospital discharge were clinically appropriate.”
The hospital also reviewed security procedures and said changes were being made. Several security officers who were working at the facility when Edwards was removed are no longer employed, the hospital said.
“In addition, we are implementing empathy training for security officers serving on behalf of Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center and Covenant Health,” the statement said.