Medical Examiner: Woman Died of Blood Clot to Lungs

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Updated By: Kevin Clark
December 23, 2015 - 11pm

Courtesy of the Dawson family.

BLOUNTSTOWN, Fla. -- The attorney for Barbara Dawson's family believes there is visual evidence to show police and hospital staff didn't do enough to save Dawson's life.

A newly-released photo shows the 57-year-old slumped over after being arrested. She is surrounded by a Blountstown Police officer and hospital personnel.

"Obviously she is in a medical emergency," said Tallahassee attorney Daryl Parks. "The two hospital personnel that are standing there at the
time and the police officer are doing nothing to assist her in the medical emergency that she's faced."

Dawson refused to leave a Calhoun Liberty Hospital In Blountstown when doctors discharged her. She then collapsed when police arrested and forcibly removed her.

Details from an autopsy reveal Dawson died from a blood clot in the lung.

The hospital says tests were run on Dawson before she was told to leave and subsequently arrested.

Officials could not say whether any of the tests would have detected the clot.

"This is very difficult to detect, and almost impossible to treat," said Ruth Attaway, Hospital CEO. "It's usually immediate and often fatal."

FDLE is currently investigating the case. Parks says he'd like state agents to look at visual evidence, including any hospital surveillance video.

Eyewitness News reached out to the hospital to see if there was any surveillance video. A spokesperson told us in a statement:

"The hospital in literally in the process of installing a new camera system, but the cameras were unfortunately not in place when Mrs. Dawson was treated earlier this week."

Parks says the hospital's answer is fishy.

"Now we learn in the last few hours that the hospital said we don't have any surveillance," he said. "That seems pretty convenient to me and most people will definitely say that doesn't pass the smell test."

Parks says his law firm plans to file a lawsuit against either the hospital or Blountstown Police Office.


By: WCTV Eyewitness News
December 23, 2015

BLOUNTSTOWN, Fla. -- Blountstown Police Chief Mark Mallory issued a statement Wednesday, laying out a timeline and explaining the Blountstown Police Department's role in the incident that occurred at the Calhoun-Liberty Hospital Monday morning

Chief Mallory says an officer arrived at the hospital around 4:48 a.m, after police received a call stating that a discharged patient wouldn't leave.

According to police, the officer asked Dawson to leave voluntarily, and then took her into custody after she refused.

Police say she walked out of the hospital's emergency department under her own power and collapsed as an officer opened the door to his vehicle.

The officer said that she was unresponsive to his verbal commands once she had collapsed.

Medical staff responded to the incident and confirmed she had a pulse and was breathing, according to police, she was then readmitted to the hospital but pronounced dead around 6:24 a.m.

The District 14 Medical Examiner says that the death has been ruled natural and the cause of death was due to a blood clot in the lungs.

Chief Mallory says the Blountstown Police Department will continue to investigate the events surrounding Dawson's death and that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement will also operate an independent investigation into the matter.

Chief Mallory closed his release by saying "I am not a physician and cannot address the medical condition of Ms. Dawson. What I can say is that we all grieve when we lose a community member. Losing someone to a car accident or an existing medical condition, the loss is all the same."

[Note: Chief Mallory's full statement is attached to this article]

Wednesday, the CEO of Calhoun-Liberty Hospital, Ruth Attaway, released the following statement about the death of Ms. Barbara Dawson:

"First, our deepest sympathies are with the Dawson Family. To lose a patient and a member of our community is heartbreaking, especially during the holidays.

"Second, I want to stress that the circumstances surrounding Ms. Dawson's death will be fully reviewed. We pride ourselves in caring for our community, and our staff - as small as we are - is dedicated to compassion and quality care.

"Based on information from the 14th District ME's office, Ms. Dawson passed away due to pulmonary saddle embolus, or a blood clot in her lungs. While we can't speak about her condition, we can generally address this medical condition. A pulmonary embolism is often immediate and fatal. It is difficult to detect and can be impossible to treat.

"We've been asked about why Ms. Dawson was removed from our facility and again, while we can't discuss her situation directly, we can say we generally only ask patients to be removed when there is a cause for concern about other patients' care or safety.

"We also understand from media accounts that FDLE is launching an investigation. We have not yet been contacted, but we intend to cooperate fully because we are confident in our standards of care."


By: Associated Press
December 23, 2015

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Autopsy results are expected to be released in the death of a woman who refused to leave a Florida hospital when doctors discharged her and collapsed when police arrested and forcibly removed her.

Blountstown police Chief Mark Mallory says 57-year-old Barbara Dawson collapsed Monday while being escorted in handcuffs from the Calhoun-Liberty Hospital, where she sought treatment for breathing trouble. Mallory says an officer arrested Dawson for disorderly conduct and trespassing.

Mallory says he expects autopsy results to be released Wednesday. Florida Department of Law Enforcement spokesman Steve Arthur says the department has been called in to investigate.

Tallahassee attorney Daryl Parks is representing Dawson's family. He says doctors thought Dawson was stable and should be released but that she felt as if she still had breathing issues and wanted to stay.


By: WCTV Eyewitness News
December 22, 2015

BLOUNTSTOWN, Fla. -- A woman has died at a Blountstown hospital shortly after being arrested by police, according to authorities.

Chief Mark Mallory says Blountstown police are investigating the death of a woman who died after being arrested at Calhoun-Liberty Hospital.

The NAACP says that the woman was 57-year-old Barbara Dawson.

Dawson's family says she used an oxygen tank 24-7. Her family tells WCTV she came to the hospital on Sunday night complaining of stomach pains.

Chief Mallory says officers were called to the hospital because Dawson refused to leave. Dawson's family says she wasn't ready to leave the hospital because she was still in pain.

Dawson was eventually arrested for disorderly conduct and trespassing.

Officers say she was escorted outside, handcuffed, and collapsed at the back door of the police cruiser as the officer was trying to put her into the car.

Mallory says a doctor was present and said he would readmit Dawson when she collapsed.

Mallory also says she was taken out of the handcuffs and transported into the hospital and that she had a pulse and was breathing at that time.

Dawson died shortly after being taken into the hospital.

Tuesday, the local Calhoun-Liberty County NAACP held an emergency meeting.

Dale Landry, the 2nd Vice President for the Florida NAACP, said, "Justice is those that were responsible for her death, especially negligent homicide, they need to be held accountable in a court of law. And then, if her death was wrongfully determined, then somehow, someway, there needs to be some sort of recompense to the family. Because here we have an innocent person taken into custody and now they've lost their life when all they did was come and ask for medical help."

The Agency for Health Care Administration released the following statement on Tuesday regarding the incident:

"The Agency is aware of the incident that occurred at Liberty Calhoun Hospital and we’re reviewing the incident to determine appropriate actions within our Agency’s purview. We offer our condolences to the patient’s family for whatever may have occurred. The Agency takes very seriously our responsibility to ensure the health and safety of all patients and to hold those health care facilities who fail to do so accountable to the patients they serve. Each facility will continue to be held to these high standards."

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has taken over the investigation.

WCTV will update this story as more information becomes available.


Courtesy of the Dawson family.
A photo of Barbara Dawson right after her collapse outside of Calhoun-Liberty hospital. Photo courtesy of the Dawson family attorney, Daryl D. Parks.


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