When you're sick or injured, you might head to urgent care first, then to the emergency room. But for a Wisconsin woman, a trip to the emergency room for chest pains and shortness of breath led to a lengthy wait, so she left the ER to go to urgent care—and died in the parking lot before she could get inside. A Milwaukee County medical examiner's report notes 25-year-old Tashonna Ward showed up with her sister at Froedtert Hospital on Jan. 2 around 5pm, per NBC News. An initial X-ray showed she had cardiomegaly, or an enlarged heart, but instead of receiving immediate attention, she was sent back to the waiting room. "I been here since 4:30 something for shortness of breath, and chest pains for them to just say it's a two to SIX hour wait to see a dr. Like that is really f------ ridiculous," Ward wrote in a Facebook post as she continued to wait.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports Ward waited for two-plus hours before leaving about 7:30pm. Her sister picked her up, and Froedtert staff called her cellphone just after 8:30pm. But it wasn't Ward who picked up: It was her sister, who said Ward was in an ambulance headed back to Froedtert after collapsing. At 9:07pm, the ambulance arrived, and Ward was pronounced dead soon after. Cardiology expert Martha Gulati says someone with Ward's symptoms should be seen within minutes. "We need to start listening to women and taking them seriously," she notes. Past patients at the hospital spent an average of four hours and 44 minutes in the ER before admission, per ProPublica. Vibe notes the hospital has received complaints before on wait times. Ward's cause of death was listed as hypertensive cardiovascular disease, per CNN. (Read more emergency room stories.)