Missouri Man Dies After Being Denied Emergency Room Care 3 Times

Illustration for article titled Missouri Man Dies After Being Denied Emergency Room Care 3 Times
Screenshot: KMOV News 4

A Missouri man died in a hospital parking lot after his third attempt to get emergency medical treatment, his wife says.


According to St. Louis-area CBS affiliate News 4, Sadie Bell took her husband, David, to the emergency room at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Peters the week of Jan. 8 after he complained of chest pains. Both times, Sadie said, medical staff refused to admit him and gave him Ibuprofen instead.

David, who was a director of Central County Fire, was rushed back for a third time to the very hospital he was denied treatment. His wife recounted what happened next.


“I called his fireman, because one of his firemen took him. I said, ‘Which hospital did you take him to?’ he said, ‘I went on and took him back to Barnes-Jewish because I know that’s where you all had been going.’ I said, ‘Oh, I just wish you wouldn’t have took him there.’ He said, ‘Why not?’ and I said, ‘Every time that we have taken him, all they did was give him Ibuprofen and sent him home, and I’m really thinking they missing something,’” Bell recalled.

Here is more on the tragic story, per News 4:

When Bell got to the hospital she said her husband was sitting outside in a wheelchair. After begging doctors to run tests and admit him, she said they refused.

“He said, ‘ma’am he’s already been here twice for the same thing and we’ve already diagnosed him,’” Bell said. From there she said she was preparing to take him to another hospital but it was too late.

“We got halfway to the car and he said, ‘Oh Sadie.’ And I said, ‘Baby what’s wrong?’” she said. Bell said her husband took his last breath in the parking lot and a good Samaritan tried giving David CPR.

Bell believes her husband received a lack of treatment because doctors and staff dismissed him. National medical reports state African Americans often have higher mortality rates because they don’t receive the same health care as their white counterparts.

“I don’t know what they thought and I just don’t understand why they wouldn’t help him,” she said.

Numbers from the American Medical Association (AMA) show Black Americans’ mortality rate is 24% higher than white Americans. One of the main contributing factors the AMA points out is that doctors are not addressing pain levels from black patients.

Citing privacy laws, Barnes-Jewish declined to comment to local media.

“When people ask you for help and they need help, I shouldn’t have to come 1, 2, 3 times. I shouldn’t have to be sitting here grieving my husband. I shouldn’t have...My children shouldn’t not have a father,” Sadie said.

Terrell Jermaine Starr is a senior reporter at The Root. He is currently writing a book proposal that analyzes US-Russia relations from a black perspective.



My new doctor got snippy when I advocated for myself just last week. I wrote a few excoriating complaint emails about her and found a new doctor practice in a whole new system. This story, and so many others, just underscores the fact that since we can’t just show up, request assistance and get it, we’ve gotta appoint Family Reps ahead of time. This family couldn’t get good service even though firefighters are part of the First Responder Family that are supposed to get priority!

Imagine if 70yo Aunt BigBootsy-Family Rep not only articulated what you needed but insisted upon it. Cuz she’s been standing steadfast in the face of funky-ass authority and not blinking for decades plus she won’t get stupid and start cussing either. Then she researched & followed up on the hospital Patient Advocates, Nursing Supervisor and Hospital Administrators and called them from the ER waiting room. Then Aunt BigBootsy rallied all the uncles to go to the Firefighter’s Union Hall for help and the nieces/nephews to make other calls. She assigned other family members to various tasks including contacting TV stations and made phone-obsessed teens post to social media & tag every entity. Now consider if all the family members failed in every aspect but that hospital just got tired of dealing with all the phone calls to various offices alone. SOMEbody would have admitted that man or he’d have died INSIDE the ER Waiting Room. The entire family, though grieving and upset, would know they had done EVERYthing they could with no regrets.

Harriet Tubman set up and used a NETWORK to get the job done. It’s clear we have to do the same; and everyone, no matter what skill or resource level, can play a part.