A 73-year-old Southeast Washington woman died Thursday in Capitol Hill Hospital after the recurrence of a pancreas ailment for which she had been treated two days earlier in the same hospital's emergency room and then released.
The death certificate signed by an attending physician said Velma Thorne, of 741 Eighty St. SE, died of hemorrhagic pancreatitis and congestive heart failure, a hospital spokesman said.
The spokesman said the hospital is "double checking to make sure the patient received every possible treatment, the best care and attention" when first brought to the hospital.The check is being made, he said, because of a widely publicized incident in 1979 in which an automobile accident victim died of internal injuries 55 minutes after he was told he had suffered only cracked ribs and was sent away.
Thorne's husband, Clayton Thorne, said his wife was taken to the hospital by ambulance Monday afternoon after complaining of abdominal pain.
The hospital spokesman said an examination at that time showed she was suffering from pancreatitis with dehydration. She was given intravenous feeding, injections and several tests and was discharged after three hours when "she appeared to be reasonably okay as far as the examining physician was concerned." A son then drove her home, the spokesman said.
On Wednesday, the pain recurred, and when she returned to the hospital, the spokesman said an examination showed her pancreas was hemorraging and that she had suffered a mild heart attack since the first hospital visit.
With the condition judged to be inoperable, the spokesman said, Thorne was place under intensive care with heavy medication. She died Thursday morning.
According to Doland's Medical Dictionary, a standard reference work, pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas caused most often by alcoholism or biliary tract disease.
The spokesman said Capitol Hill Hospital reorganized its emergency room and placed it under new professional direction after the 1979 incident. The hospital settled a lawsuit in that case with an out-of-court payment of $415,265 to the victim's family.