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  • Hospital Negligence – Rowden v. Henry Ford Jackson Hospital

Sommers Schwartz attorney Robert Sickels filed a lawsuit in Jackson County Circuit Court on behalf of a woman who died of hypothermia as a result of hospital negligence.

On March 2, 2022, a City of Jackson police officer was summoned to Gail Broner’s apartment complex because she was acting erratically. The police officer found her outside her apartment, dressed only in a nightgown. She told the officer she had suffered a fall. The officer called for an ambulance to take her to the Henry Ford Jackson Hospital emergency room. 

In the emergency department, Broner was found to be confused, disoriented, dizzy, and weak. She complained of severe back and neck pain. It was noted that she had a history of alcoholism but denied current drug or alcohol use.

A resident performed a physical exam, noting dizziness, poor coordination, and abnormal behavioral symptoms like flat affect, inappropriate judgment, scattered thoughts, and “flights of ideas.” Broner’s physical symptoms included nausea and vomiting, back and neck pain, slurred speech, gait problems, and shortness of breath.

Blood tests revealed critically low electrolyte levels. She received oral medication for this condition while in the ER and a prescription to take for the next seven days. Her electrolyte levels were not re-checked before she was discharged at 2:30 a.m. on March 3, 2022. At the time of discharge, it was 19 degrees outside. 

Henry Ford’s staff took no action to contact a family member or help Broner arrange safe transportation home despite dangerously cold weather conditions. Still disoriented and dizzy, Broner left the hospital on foot in her pajamas. She had no shoes, no coat, and no cell phone. Four hours later, two individuals called the police, reporting that Broner had huddled on the ground less than four blocks from the ER.

An ambulance arrived and returned Broner to Henry Ford Jackson Hospital. She was moaning, disoriented, and suffering from hypothermia. Scrapes and bruises on her hands, feet, and legs indicated she had fallen and been unable to get up. While attempting to re-warm her, she developed a cardiac arrest. Resuscitation efforts were unsuccessful, and she was pronounced dead at 8:47 a.m.

The Complaint alleges that Henry Ford Hospital staff members were aware of Broner’s physical and mental limitations but negligently discharged her into dangerous weather conditions without taking reasonable measures to ensure her safety. Her daughter, as the personal representative of the Estate, seeks compensation for her mother’s pain and suffering, the loss of her mother’s love, companionship and services, as well as medical and funeral expenses.

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