WINCHESTER — The two-hour and 22-minute wait between Franklin Randolph Bryson Jr. arriving at Winchester Medical Center and being admitted to the emergency department contributed to his death, according to a $3 million wrongful death lawsuit.
The lawsuit, filed last week in Winchester Circuit Court, names as defendants the hospital and Dr. John C. “Jack” Potter, director of emergency services for Valley Health System, the six-hospital chain that includes WMC. It was filed on behalf of Kimberly D. Bryson, Franklin Bryson’s wife.
Bryson, 53, of Gore, died on Feb. 25, 2020, a few hours after going to the hospital due to chest pain. The suit said Bryson was admitted at 9:36 p.m. on Feb. 24, 2020, and that he assessed his pain as a four on a scale of one to 10. He had been experiencing chest pain for months and said it was self-resolving.
According to the suit, Bryson was assigned a two by hospital personnel on the Emergency Severity Index, a five-level algorithm. A one is for patients who most urgently need care and five for the least urgent.
“ESI 2 means that it would be unsafe for the patient to remain in the waiting room for any length of time and the patient must be rapidly placed into a room and treated by an emergency room physician,” the suit said. “The need for care is immediate and an appropriate bed needs to be found.”
However, the suit said that despite Bryson having heart palpitations and increasing chest pain, he wasn’t admitted to the emergency department until 11:58 p.m., when he was first seen by a doctor. Five minutes later, he was diagnosed as having left atrial enlargement, a condition that impacts the heart’s ability to pump blood to the body other than the lungs. The right side of the heart pumps blood to the lungs.
The suit said Bryson was given aspirin, but his pain worsened and he needed breathing assistance. At 1:32 a.m., Bryson’s heart stopped and he was revived, but he was pronounced dead at 2:02 a.m.
In addition to saying hospital personnel took too long to admit Bryson to the emergency department, they are accused of improperly assessing his condition and improperly communicating with one another.
“Overall, they provided substandard care to Mr. Bryson in the emergency department when they knew, or should have known, that such substandard care would cause, or would likely cause serious injury and/or the death of Mr. Bryson,” the suit said.
Carla Dallmann, Valley Health vice president of quality and safety, wouldn’t comment on Bryson’s care, but said in a written statement that she sympathized with his family regarding his death.
Bryson, a father of three, married in 1986 and was the owner of Dominion Rebar, a steel erector business in Gore, according to his obituary. He was a member of the Gore Volunteer Fire & Rescue Company, and enjoyed camping, spending time with his family and watching NASCAR and the Minnesota Vikings in his spare time.