Family sues Wuestoff Medical Center claiming loved one couldn't get ICU bed

ROCKLEDGE, Fla. — A family is suing Wuestoff Medical Center in Rockledge, claiming that a lack of an intensive care unit bed for a woman led to her death.

Attorneys for Shannon Lawley’s family said the 31-year-old waited for more than 10 hours to get a bed in ICU and she didn’t get the proper care in the emergency room.

“They did not even know (she) went into cardiac arrest. Her boyfriend had to leave her side and find somebody,” said Lawley’s father, Michael Lawley.

Document: Copy of the lawsuit

The nearly 50-page lawsuit names as defendants the hospital and a Hospital and Health Management Inc. (HMA), which managed the hospital until 2014.

The lawsuit claims that Shannon Lawley went to the ER in February 2012 with complaints of abdominal pain and shortness of breath.

She was diagnosed with several conditions including pancreatitis.

The lawsuit said there were no available ICU beds and there were also six other patients waiting for an available ICU bed.

“I don’t think there’s any question that Shannon would have survived had she been transferred,” said attorney Theodore Babbitt. “Her condition was treatable. She needed, more than anything else, to get fluid.”

Her attorneys said the U.S. Department of Justice is investigating HMA, which managed the hospital at the time, and said it’s a matter of profit over people.

“It was a corporate practice to pack this hospital, and they didn’t lose the money they would get from her very good health insurance,” said Babbitt.

Wuestoff Medical Center officials and HMA officials said they could not comment on ongoing litigation.

In a statement to Channel 9, the hospital said, “Thank you for the opportunity to be included in your story. However, it is our practice not to comment on ongoing litigation.”

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