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Lee v. Fairview Health Services

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

July 12, 2019

Claire Jean Lee, Plaintiff,
v.
Fairview Health Services; and Fairview Southdale Hospital, Defendants.

          Claire Jean Lee, plaintiff pro se.

          Jennifer M. Waterworth, Esq. Gislason & Hunter, LLP, counsel for defendants.

          ORDER

          David S. Doty, Judge

         This matter is before the court upon the motion for summary judgment by defendants Fairview Health Services and Fairview Southdale Hospital (collectively Fairview). Based on a review of the file, record, and proceedings herein, and for the following reasons, the court grants the motion.

         BACKGROUND

         This disability dispute arises out of pro se plaintiff Claire Jee Lee's treatment at the Fairview emergency room (ER) on January 10-11, 2015.[1]

         Lee suffers from schizoaffective disorder - bipolar type, panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and a hearing impairment. Am. Compl. ¶ 3. On January 10, 2015, at 10:31 p.m., Lee went to the Fairview ER complaining of abdominal pain. Waterworth Aff. Ex. 1. Lee was examined by Dr. Todd Joing. Id. Dr. Joing ordered lab testing, which showed no abnormalities requiring immediate treatment. Id. Dr. Joing explained the results to Lee, and referred her to Fairview gastroenterologist Dr. Cynthia Sherman for follow-up treatment and provided her with medication instructions. Id.

         Lee then asked to speak with a licensed social worker regarding her fear of taking medications. Id. At 2:00 a.m., on January 11, Jane Hansen, MSW, LICSW, arrived to speak with Lee. Id. Lee told Hansen that the last time she was treated at the Fairview ER, it took fifty-three minutes before she was triaged. Id. Lee also stated that during her last visit, three Fariview nurses made up a story that she refused to leave, and she was still upset with how she was treated. Id.

         Hansen told Lee that she could bring her concerns regarding her last visit to the Fairview patient experience representative or the nursing supervisor. Id. Hansen also informed Lee that she could assist Lee with any mental health concerns she may have. Id. Lee then became upset and raised her voice. Id. The interview ended shortly thereafter. Id.

         At 2:25 a.m., Lee was seen by Nurse Tia Scholla. Id. Lee told Scholla that she wanted to talk with a licensed social worker regarding her fear of taking antibiotics and about her father's recent death. Id.

         At 3:35 a.m., Hansen returned to examine Lee and asked her if she would like an assessment. Id. Lee refused because she was not satisfied with her previous interaction with Hansen. Lee Dep. at 101:8-18. Lee stated that she preferred waiting until 8:00 a.m. to see another social worker and asked to stay overnight. Waterworth Aff. Ex. 1.

         Dr. Joing concluded that Lee did not meet the criteria for a behavioral health hold, and officially discharged her at 4:12 a.m. Id. Lee was advised that she could return to Fairview for re-evaluation as needed. Id.

         At 5:28 a.m., Lee returned to the Fairview ER triage desk and asked to speak with Scholla. Id. Lee asked Scholla why she had printed her discharge paperwork prior to her speaking with Hansen. Id. Lee stated that the time on her discharge paperwork was evidence that Fairview intended to discharge her before she spoke with Hansen. Id. Lee also complained that Hansen did not properly evaluate her. Id. Scholla told Lee that Fairview did not discharge her without properly evaluating her needs. Id. Scholla also assured Lee that had she met the appropriate criteria for further treatment, her discharge paperwork would have been shredded, and her providers would have continued with an appropriate plan of care.[2] Id. Lee spent the remainder of the morning in the Fairview ER waiting room. Id.

         At 7:49 a.m., Lee was re-admitted to the Fairview ER. Id. She stated that she was there to have a psychiatric evaluation and for abdominal pain. Id. Lee asked to review her medical records and to use the phone to raise a complaint about her medical treatment. Id. Lee stated that she needed to use the phone so she could contact Joanna Roberson, a former Fairview employee. Id. Eventually, Lee's phone was removed from the room by Fairview staff because Lee made repeated calls to the Fairview psychiatric department. Id. Lee stated that she made the calls to Roberson because she was concerned that Fairview staff would call the police.[3] Lee Dep. at 106:6-107:5.

         Lee was then re-examined by Dr. Randall Steinman. Waterworth Aff. Ex. 1. Dr. Steinman noted that Lee was discharged that morning with improvement in her symptoms and was referred to Fairview gastroenterology for follow-up treatment. Id. Dr. Steinman also concluded that Lee's lab work that morning was unremarkable except for slightly elevated creatinine. Id. Dr. Steinman further noted that Lee had three negative abdominal ultrasounds in the last year and a ...


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