Hospital Goes to Court to Evict Patient in Fight Over a Bed

Margo Smith refused to go home because she needed a special bed.

ByABC News
October 21, 2013, 1:28 PM
Margo Smith with her grandson, Markus Smith, at the Aurora nursing home East Hartford, Conn., Nov. 30, 2012.
Margo Smith with her grandson, Markus Smith, at the Aurora nursing home East Hartford, Conn., Nov. 30, 2012.
courtesy Marlisa Smith

Oct. 22, 2013— -- A Connecticut hospital had to go to court to evict a patient who refused to leave the facility in a fight over a bed, but has been unable to put the case to rest.

St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center managed to finally get Margo Smith to leave after 27 days -- 23 days after she was discharged -- and after Smith's health care provider sent a special bed to her home.

But Smith is unhappy with the bed and is now petitioning for a better bed.

Smith was admitted to St. Francis with pneumonia and a urinary tract infection on Sept. 22, but refused to leave after doctors discharged her four days later, according to a lawsuit filed with the Hartford Superior Court on Friday.

Smith left the hospital later that day after the court ruled in the hospital's favor, but both sides are accusing the other of unpleasant behavior.

The hospital's filing with the court sought a temporary injunction to "restrain" and remove a "belligerent" patient who allegedly refused to go home after she was treated and discharged.

"She was occupying an acute level bed that could have been occupied by patients with medical needs," said the hospital's lawyer, David Haught with Cooney, Scully, and Dowling in Hartford. "She didn't have medical needs. She also assaulted staff."

Haught said the patient refused to leave the hospital claiming she did not have adequate facilities at home, but that she had actually ordered the removal of her hospital bed at home so she could not safely be discharged.

"She was insisting on a hospital bed that carried a price tag of $37,000 that the company would not place in a private home because it can only be operated by medical staff," said Haught.

The lawsuit claims the "defendant has been verbally and physically abusive to staff, and often becomes belligerent and disruptive, resulting in numerous complaints from other patients."

Smith complained if her room was not a constantly regulated at 83 degrees, and called the Police, Health Department, Social Services and the attorney general numerous times to complain about her treatment at the hospital, the complaint stated.

The court approved the hospital's request and "Saint Francis arranged for transportation from the hospital to the patient's home along with the necessary equipment to ensure the patient's safety," the hospital said in a statement.

Smith told she is confined to bed because of a paralyzing arthritis and a condition that has resulted in her hip and pelvis being fused together.

Prior to her release, social services had sent a new bed to Smith's home, but it was the wrong one, Smith claimed. And she is unhappy with the replacement bed.

"I wake in horror every day because of one thing -- the bed is lumpy," said Smith. "They sent me a small bed. My arms are hanging over the edge of the bed. I'm 305 pounds so my body's hanging over."

Smith, who says she is a former minister with the Springfield Church of God, Mass., denies the hospital's claims that she was an abusive patient. Instead, she claims the nurses repeatedly ignored signs on her door advising that she suffers from Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Syndrome – a condition that makes her "burn" whenever she is exposed to chemicals like those found in fabric softener or perfume.

"A nurse came in -- you could smell her before you come in the door. I said 'It's burning me, it's burning me, will you please leave?' I was begging them to leave. That's when I was yelling at them."

Smith's daughter, Marlisa Smith, said her mother had the original bed removed from her home because it was deemed unsafe. She also said nurses repeatedly antagonized her mother and "would talk to her like she was nobody, like they could do what they like, regardless of her condition."

"Of course I'm angry," said Marlisa Smith. "But what can I do? I don't know."

The Smith family are currently working with Legal Aid to petition social services to provide a different bed.