When Martha Barr entered a Eugene, Oregon emergency room two days before Christmas in 2008, the 25-year-old graduate student was having trouble breathing. Six hours later, a doctor finally got around to seeing her. But by then it was too late. Now Barr's family is suing the hospital on the charge that it didn't act quickly enough to save their daughter.
Around noon, Barr checked herself into Sacred Heart Medical Center. She was anxious, tired and her heart was beating fast. But it wasn't until 6:25 p.m. that a doctor got around to examining Barr.
By then her condition had worsened. The doctor suspected she was suffering from a pulmonary embolism, a blood clot blocking an artery that feeds the lungs, and suggested a CT angiogram.
But the test was never run. And an hour later Barr went into cardiac arrest. By 9:30 that night, only nine hours after she'd checked herself into the hospital, the young woman was dead.
Sacred Heart opened only months before Barr was admitted. And a year later, in a press release announcing the hiring of new doctors and nurses, the hospital admitted that some patients had experienced long wait times in its ER.
In a lawsuit, Barr's parents claim their daughter's long wait contributed to her death. They're asking for $2 million. The hospital has yet to comment.