Woman's Death in L.A. Hospital Remains a Mystery

The case of Edith Rodriguez, the 43-year-old mother of three who collapsed in the emergency room of Los Angeles' Martin Luther King Jr. Harbor Hospital in May and died after not receiving help, has raised questions about the quality of hospital care and left a family grieving.

"I'm angry, but at the same time I'm feeling pretty bad about her,'" said Rodriquez's brother Eddie Sanchez.

On "Good Morning America" today, Frank Casco, the attorney for Rodriguez's three children and four grandchildren, said what happened in the emergency room was "a mystery," but Casco says the 911 calls and security camera video proves that many people saw Rodriguez suffering and that no one offered help.

"She was lying in the fetal position crying and no one would help her," Casco said. "The security guards were on notice that she was laying there. The police were on notice that she was laying there. The hospital staff was on notice she was laying there."

Casco also said the police officers in the emergency room that morning were more interested in checking out Rodriquez for a possible parole violation, then making sure she got help.

And other families are now speaking out with allegations that their loved ones died of neglect while in the King-Harbor ER.

In March 2003, 20-year-old Oluchi Oliver waited hours to be admitted to the hospital with crippling stomach pains, according to his family. After 10 hours, he collapsed dead on the floor. No one noticed, his father, Akilah Oliver, said.

"It's always unimaginable when a child dies, but for him to die like this, as if he were invisible. … It's really tragic and it's really unimaginable," Akilah Oliver said.

Last week, federal inspectors declared that patients at King-Harbor were in "immediate jeopardy" of harm or death and gave the hospital 23 days to correct procedures or lose certification. It was the fourth time in less than four years that the hospital had received the warning.

Timeline of Tragedy

At 1:43 a.m. May 9, Rodriquez's boyfriend, Jose Prado, placed the first call to 911 from a pay phone just outside the emergency room at King-Harbor Hospital.

911 Operator: "What's wrong with her?," the 911 operator asked.

Prado: "She's vomiting blood."

The operator then questions why hospital officials are not helping Rodriguez.

Prado: "They're watching her and they're not doing anything. Just watching her."

Rodriguez had been to the emergency room on three separate occasions. Each time she was released after being given prescriptions for pain.

This time, she lay on the floor of the emergency room for 45 minutes. A security video shows staffers and other patients standing by as a janitor cleaned the floor around her.

Eight minutes after the first call, another call to 911 apparently comes from another person not related to Rodriquez. "There's a woman on the ground of the emergency room at Martin Luther King and they're overlooking her," the female caller says, "and they're ignoring her."

The operator asks the caller what she wants him to do and informs the woman to contact hospital personnel. The conversation then becomes tense as the operator lets the caller know he cannot send an ambulance to the hospital.

"I cannot do anything for you for the quality of the hospital there," the operator says. "This line is for emergency purposes only."

"May [God] strike you too for acting the way you are," the caller responds. The operator says, "No negative, ma'am. You're the one."

The county coroner ruled that Rodriguez died of a perforated bowel.

After listening to the tapes, L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yarovslosky called the hospital's actions a moral and human breakdown.

"I hope it's a lesson to the rest of the community that when somebody's in trouble and the appropriated reaction is not to turn your back on that somebody," Yarovslosky said. "It's to put your hand out and see how you can help."

Oluchi Oliver's family is not optimistic that King-Harbor can turn itself around. "It's very hard to have a lot of patience at this point and a lot of faith that the hospital can fix itself," Akilah Oliver said.

The supervisor of that second dispatcher said his tone on the call was inappropriate. The medical director of the hospital has been ousted for his handling of an unrelated lapse in patient care.