Florida Woman Dies After Being Ejected By Hospital That Thought She Was 'Faking It'

| by Nicholas Roberts
Barbara Dawson.Barbara Dawson.

A Florida woman who was arrested for refusing to leave an emergency room of a local hospital collapsed and died in the hospital's parking lot later that day. Medical staff called police on her because they reportedly thought she was feigning her illness.

Barbara Dawson, 57, went to the Calhoun Liberty Hospital in Blountstown, Florida, on Dec. 20, 2015, to get treatment for her abdominal pain, ABC reports. She died in the early hours of Dec. 21, 2015.

Hospital officials said that Dawson was being unruly and refused to leave the hospital after medical staff examined and released her. A police officer was called to the hospital, and he arrested Dawson for disorderly conduct and trespassing.

Lawyers representing Dawson's family have released a police dash-cam video of the incident. Martha Smith-Dixon, Dawson's aunt, said in a news conference on Jan. 6 that she hopes the footage will bring "justice for Barbara," according to ABC.

Dawson is not visible in most of the dash-cam video but can reportedly be heard saying "Oh my God" and "I can't breathe" multiple times.

"You hear them insisting that she is going to jail," Benjamin Crump, the Dawson family lawyer, said about the video, Reuters reports. "You also hear hospital personnel repeating to her, 'There's nothing wrong with you,' as she continues to be in distress."

According to Crump, the video shows that the officer did not believe Dawson was in any medical trouble either. The cause of her death was a blood clot on the lung.

"You hear him saying to the captain, 'I thought she was just being non-compliant,'" Daryl Parks, another lawyer representing the family, said. "We now know that that assumption cost Barbara Dawson her life."

Dawson collapsed before entering the officer's vehicle and was eventually brought back inside the hospital. Parks noted that there is a 20-minute gap between when Dawson could no longer be heard on the dash-cam recording and when medical staff arrived, according to ABC.

A police report received by an ABC affiliate said that the officer believed "Dawson was ... making herself dead weight in an effort to avoid going to jail."

Crump went on to emphasize what he called the larger implication in Dawson's death, noting that police and hospital staff treated her "like she was not worthy of consideration."

No lawsuits have yet been filed in the case, although the Blountstown Police Department, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration have all launched separate independent investigations.

Sources: Reuters, ABC News / Photo credit: Family photo via NBC Miami, WCTV