Grieving family blames Norman hospital when loved one died hours after discharge

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NORMAN, Okla. - A Paoli family is in shock and confused after the sudden death of their loved one who was released from a hospital just hours before he died.

Jane Wilbanks took her son, 55-year-old Kenneth Craig, to the Norman Regional Healthplex emergency room late one night. He was complaining of pain, difficulty breathing, and a swollen leg and abdomen.

“He knew something was seriously wrong because he just never goes to the doctor,” Wilbanks said. “He looked like he was eight months pregnant.”

She said doctors got an EKG, a chest x-ray, and took blood work before sending him home.

“[Said] that he had a clean bill of health and he could just go home,” Wilbanks said.

Then six hours later, at about 9:30 a.m. the next day, he woke his wife to take him to the hospital again, with more pain and difficulty breathing. He knew something wasn’t right.

“He walked out and got in the truck, and was sitting behind the wheel,” Wilbanks said. “When she came out, she said that she could tell he was in trouble.”

His wife ran next door to get help, but it was too late. He was dead by the time she got back to the truck.

Wilbanks said an autopsy revealed he died from a gastrointestinal hemorrhage, an internal bleed in his abdomen.

Craig's family insists the internal bleeding should have been caught. Some members even insist the fact that he was uninsured may have had something to do with the alleged poor care.

"I just can`t believe that we took him in for care, and he didn't get it," Wilbanks said.

News 4 reached out to Norman Regional for comment, and Craig's family was ready to sign a HIPAA consent form to allow the hospital to discuss Craig's care, but a Healthplex spokesperson declined, instead sending the following statement:

"Patient privacy laws prevent us from discussing specific details related to a patient's care."

Now Craig's family is determined to hold the hospital accountable, even considering taking legal action.

"I think they`re responsible for this death," Wilbanks said.

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