Family of Pauls Valley woman who died in police custody seeks answers
PAULS VALLEY — The family of a woman arrested while seeking medical attention at a hospital — who later died — has hired an attorney to investigate possible medical negligence.
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Jamie Russell, 33, was arrested Jan. 2 at Pauls Valley General Hospital by police officers who said she was combative and in possession of drugs not prescribed to her.
Two hours later, Russell was found unresponsive in a holding cell in the booking area of the Garvin County jail.
She was taken back to the hospital, where she died Jan. 3.
The state medical examiner ruled the cause of death was an ectopic pregnancy, a condition where the embryo implants outside the womb.
Heather Mitchell, of the Clark and Mitchell law firm in Oklahoma, said she has been hired by the family of Russell, who also used her maiden name, Fisher.
“Jamie Lynn Fisher’s family still has many questions and concerns about the events surrounding her death and hope to have answers soon,” Mitchell said in a statement. “The initial reporting of her death has caused additional stress as it implied that she was a drug abuser. That is simply not accurate. Jamie’s drug screen upon admission to Pauls Valley General Hospital Emergency Room was completely clean.”
Hospital President Bridget Cosby said in a written statement that hospital officials cannot comment on the details of Russell’s treatment, but they are investigating the case.
Sheriff Larry Rhodes called the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation to look into the incident. OSBI spokeswoman Jessica Brown said agents finished the report and expect to submit it to the district attorney this week.
A common condition
Dr. Landon Lorenz, who specializes in obstetrics and gynecology at OU Medical Center, said ectopic pregnancies are fairly common in a busy emergency room, with doctors typically seeing two or three cases each week.
While the condition is always fatal for the baby, the death of the mother is usually preventable, Lorenz said.
“It’s a leading cause of pregnancy-related death in the first trimester as women that haven’t received any prenatal care are usually the most common,” Lorenz said. “Any doctor would be suspicious of a woman that comes in of reproductive age with stomach pains or vaginal bleeding. Testing for pregnancy or ectopic pregnancy should happen if a woman shows those symptoms.”
Russell had gone by ambulance to the emergency room complaining of abdominal pain.
During the examination, a nurse called in a police officer because Russell was uncooperative and refused to lie on her back for a test, according to a Pauls Valley Police Department report.
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