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EXCLUSIVE: Man dies in St. Barnabas Emergency Room waiting area

Jim Hoffer has the exclusive investigation.
January 24, 2014 2:24:06 PM PST
Let's start off by saying that St. Barnabas is a good hospital. The doctors and nurses there save lives every day, but earlier this week, an over-burdened Emergency Room may have failed in its mission to help the sick.

A man died at some point during an 8-hour wait for care. Most alarming, he may have been dead for several hours before anyone noticed.

The patient, a 30-year-old man walked into St. Barnabas Hospital's Emergency Room Sunday night around 10 p.m. complaining about a rash. His vitals were taken and he was told to sit in the packed waiting room until his name was called. At 6:40 the next morning, he was found by a security guard, dead in a waiting room chair.

"He was found stiff blue and cold." "He was there for a while," said a hospital worker.

Hoffer: How can that be in a major hospital in NYC?

ER Worker: "There's no policy in place to check the waiting room to see if people waiting to be seen are still there or still alive."

The Emergency Room employee who requested anonymity for fear of retaliation was working that night and says there's one reason the patient died and was dead for several hours just feet from doctors and nurses.

"I'm saying he died because not enough staff to take care of the number of patients we see each day. We need more staff at St Barnabas hospital," he said.

The hospital claims the patient, 30-year-old John Verrier, was checked several times during those 8 hours and his name called when doctors were ready to see him.

Hoffer: It says he was checked on and his name was called several times?
ER Worker: "He was not checked on that is 100-percent false, was his name called? Yes, it was 3 times over the P-A system." He adds, "Based on number of people in the waiting room it is impossible to check on each person physically."

A hospital spokesman says that 'Per our policy and procedures, security checked on the patient and others. video surveillance confirms that he was still active and moving around as late as 3:45 a-m. An internal review, the spokesman says has concluded that all hospital guidelines were met."

"For me it feels like a cover-up," said the worker.

The ER worker says if the hospital fails to face up to its mistakes, they will happen again.

"In healthcare, I understand it's a business but if people are dying under your watch, something has to be done," he said.

We don't know how many hours this young man sat dead in a waiting room chair, but the fact is he went to St Barnabas at 10 P-M. More than eight-and-a-half-hours later, a security guard found him.

Any health professional would probably conclude that's a procedural breakdown that needs immediate fixing.

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE FAMILY'S REACTION TO THIS STORY

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