A Northeast Washington hospital has paid $415,265 to the family of a 28-year-old security guard who died shortly after he was refused treatment and evicted from the hospital's emergency room, according to probate papers filed at D.C. Superior Court.
Capitol Hill Hospital agreed to pay the money to the family of Howard B. Smith last August in settlement of a $201.5 million suit filed a year ago against the hospital and its directors and officers.
According to the suit, Smith was rushed to the hospital last March 2, about 10:45 p.m. after he was injured in an automobile crash.
Smith was evicted from the hospital's emergency room a few hours later by D.C. police officers at the instruction of a hospital employe who allegedly told police, "(Smith) has only three cracked ribs. . . We don't normally admit patients like that."
Smith died 55 minutes later as police officers rushed him to D.C. General Hospital for treatment.
Smith's family contended in the suit that hospital officials were responsible for adopting policies and procedures that violated federal and local laws. In addition, the suit maintained that the emergency room often operated in violation of the city's health regulations and did not have enough man-power to operate properly.
The family's attorney, Edward Greensfelder Jr., said parties in the suit are under a court order not to disclose the terms of the settlement.
Shortly after Smith's death, Mayor Marion Barry ordered an investigation of circumstances surrounding the incident. D.C. Department of Human Services investigators found that emergency room employes had not recorded crucial signs of shock Smith displayed at the hospital.
The hospital's emergency room license was placed on a "provisional" status and city ambulances were prohibited from taking patients to the hospital for treatment. The provisional status was lifted last June.