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Patient dies shortly after forced discharge from Fayetteville hospital

Published November 24, 2011

As posted on WRAL.COM

Fayetteville, N.C. — The family of a 30-year-old Harnett County man who died on the way home from an 8-day stay at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center says the hospital discharged him against his will.

Adarrin "Jonte" Washington was being treated for pneumonia, but when the hospital tried to send him home on Tuesday, he refused to sign the paperwork, his mother told WRAL News on Wednesday.

"He had been saying he didn't want to go home. He said he didn't want to go home because he told them something was wrong with him," said Deborah Washington. "(But the hospital said) they couldn't find anything wrong with him."

It wasn't the first lengthy hospital stay for Washington, who had non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. He was hospitalized for a month earlier this fall, his family said.

On Tuesday, the hospital arranged for one of their vans to take him home, but when the driver arrived to pick him up, he found Washington unresponsive. The driver called the nursing supervisor, the family said.

"Their response was, 'He does this all the time. He does not want to go home,'" Washington's cousin, Shamekia Powell, said.

Powell said Washington's past behavior should not have determined his lack of treatment.

"Whether he (does it all the time) or not, if he's telling you he's unresponsive, somebody should have checked this man out," she said.

By the time the driver brought Washington home, he was cold to the touch, Deborah Washington said.

"My son was laying his head back, his eyes rolled back in his head," she said. "My son was dead before he even got there."

The hospital has come under fire recently for patient treatment in the emergency room. At least two lawsuits have been filed in recent weeks, including one from a woman who said a hospital security officer put her mentally ill husband in a choke hold, killing him.

No one at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center would comment on Washington's death or whether it's being investigated, citing patient confidentiality laws. Hospital spokeswoman Janet Conway said in a statement that the hospital takes patient safety very seriously.

"We only discharge patients from the hospital when it has been medically determined that the patient no longer requires hospitalization," the statement said. "In these cases, patients are given written discharge instructions for their at-home care and may be reassessed by a physician or nurse if they verbalize a reluctance to go home."

A cause of death for Washington has not been determined, pending the results of an autopsy.

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