I can’t breathe: Barbara Dawson should be alive today

December 27, 2015

Barbara Dawson, 57, collapsed and died while handcuffed in the street on the Monday before Christmas outside Liberty Calhoun Hospital in Blountstown, FL after she was arrested by police and forcibly removed from ER where she sought medical assistance to help her breathe. She died of a massive pulmonary embolism that could have been diagnosed within a few minutes and successfully treated by the medical staff upon admission to the hospital.

NBC News reports,

Police were called to the emergency room when Dawson, who had been discharged by physicians, refused to leave. She was charged with disorderly conduct and trespassing and was escorted out of the hospital in handcuffs.

Dawson then collapsed as she arrived at the officer’s car.

“Our officer asked for help once he realized the patient did indeed appear to be unresponsive and had medical staff respond to Ms. Dawson,” Blountstown Police Chief Mark Mallory said in a statement on Wednesday.

Dawson was readmitted to the emergency room — where she was pronounced dead an hour later. The Florida state medical examiner ruled on Wednesday that she died from natural causes due to a blood clot in her lung. The blood clot was due to Dawson being excessively overweight, officials said.


Dawson’s aunt Angela Donar witnessed the incident, according to NBC station WJHG. Donar said her niece didn’t leave the hospital because she was still in pain, even though she was deemed medically stable to leave.

“When he got her to the car, he opened the door and tried to put her in the car and after then she collapsed,” Donar told the station. “They got the doctor to come out there and get a pulse of her and they couldn’t get no pulse. They bought a stretcher out there and took her back in the hospital.”

According to Chief Mallory, she was arrested for disorderly conduct and trespassing when she refused multiple requests to leave the ER.

According to CEO Ruth Attaway of the Calhoun Liberty Hospital, pulmonary embolisms are “difficult to detect and can be impossible to treat.”


No reasonably competent medical professional in a hospital ER would refuse to treat, discharge and call the cops on a patient who came into the ER complaining that she was experiencing chest pain and having difficulty breathing. The staff would have been able to visualize the PE with a Chest Spiral CT.

Wikipedia explains what a pulmonary embolism is and this is what it looks like.

Saddle Pulmonary Embolism (PE) Dr. Nir Hus MD., PhD. Image #3
Photo courtesy of Dr. Nir Hus, MD, PhD at Flickr

Wikipedia does not list obesity as a risk factor for pulmonary embolisms.

Daryl Parks is representing Ms. Dawson’s family. He works with Benjamin Crump. I do not believe he is going to have any trouble piercing the victim-blaming smokescreen spewed out by CEO Attaway.

Victim blaming is disgusting. Blaming a patient for dying after you kick her out of your ER is unconscionable.

I can’t breathe.

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