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.
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.
Russell told the nurse she couldn’t lie down because it hurt and asked for some pain medication, according to the report.
Officers described Russell as combative, yelling, cussing and grabbing at the hospital staff members, who decided to release her because she was uncooperative, police said.
A police officer helping Russell pack her things found two pill bottles that did not belong to her; one contained 21
pills of Oxycodone and seven pills of penicillin, and the other had 27 pills of Alprazolam, according to the police report.
Police said a female relative arrived at the hospital and told police both pill bottles belong to an older family member. The officer noted he was too busy to get additional information from the relative.
Russell was arrested on complaints of possession of a controlled dangerous substance and taken to Garvin County jail.
The emergency room doctor who saw her determined she was “fit for incarceration,” the police report states.
A friend remembers
Russell leaves behind a son, Wyatt, 10, who is under the care of her sister.
The family declined to comment for this story.
Jeremy Potts, Russell’s close friend since third grade, said he would cook out with Russell and Wyatt frequently. Being a mom and raising her son was what Russell liked to do best, he said.
“For Jamie Lynn, it was all about Wyatt,” Potts said.
“He’s a real good kid and a dang good worker for a young kid, and he was growing up to be a good country boy. That was the only thing he had, was his mama.”
Potts said he grew up working on Russell’s parents’ farm in Garvin County, herding cattle and plowing fields.
“We grew up on their farm,” Potts said.
“I don’t know how, but she was always right beside us working as hard as everyone else. She was the only teenage woman that could handle a full-grown steer and make it do what she wanted.”
Results of a toxicology report from the medical examiner’s office haven’t been released.
Russell’s friends and family say she never had been in trouble with drugs.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court Network shows no reports of drug charges.
Potts said he used drugs after high school and even served time in jail, but he never knew Russell to take drugs.
“She wasn’t a drug addict at all, but she never looked down on me and she would never do those things,” Potts said.
“We talked on a daily basis. I never understood how much of a good person she was until she was gone. Not having her to call is bugging the hell out of me.”