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January 6, 2010 - Inspectors: Hospital Turned Away Woman

A Las Vegas hospital broke the law by denying emergency care to an uninsured pregnant woman, whose child later died, health inspectors say.

Monday's findings by the Nevada State Health Division revealed University Medical Center did not screen Roshunda Abney in a timely manner. Penalties against UMC could include fines and loss of Medicare reimbursement capability, the Las Vegas Sun reported Tuesday.

Officials for UMC, which has suspended six hospital employees, declined to comment for the story, the newspaper said.

University Medical Center and Valley Hospital Medical Center, also in Las Vegas, face a federal lawsuit alleging they violated the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, which mandates hospitals to care for emergency patients regardless of ability to pay, the Sun reported.

Abney, 25, and her fiance, Raffinee Dewberry, pleaded for help and waited for more than five hours Nov. 30 in the emergency room at University Medical Center in Las Vegas, the Sun said.

The couple left UMC and went to VHMC, where they said they were told they would not soon be taken care of, and finally went home. There, Abney delivered a breech birth, a premature girl who died.

"It validates my client's story… and shows she's not making this up," her attorney said. "She's not being overly dramatic. She went to them seeking help and assistance and was turned down with every attempt," he said.

A security guard and other witnesses said the couple was treated badly by staff, the Sun reported.

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