Rivera was drinking and playing dominoes with a friend, Luis Medina, at an apartment on E. 167th St. The two got into an argument, and Medina slugged his pal. It’s not clear if Rivera fell and hit his head, but the injury hurt enough that Rivera called for an ambulance and was taken to Lincoln.
About 8:35 p.m., staff took his vitals and gave him a white ID wristband and an ice pack. The triage nurse noted his injury as “punched in the head” and his pain score as “moderate.” He did not complain of dizziness, but his head was still hurting.
Lincoln staff told him he had to stay for observation. On video, he’s spotted sitting in the pediatric waiting room. At 9:44 p.m., he gets up and walks toward the nurses’ station. At 9:54 p.m., he enters the adult waiting room dubbed Area A. In hospital records, staff noted Rivera “was placed in hallway J in A area at 2154 (9:54 p.m.)”
Rivera appeared alert and ambulatory as he entered Area A and headed toward a seat midway down the hall.
More than 2 1/2 hours passed. About 12:30 a.m., an unnamed physician started looking for Rivera, the records show.
“Multiple attempts were made to call patient in A area without answer,” the records claim. Records also claim that “nursing staff walked around A area in attempt to locate patient without success.”
Also at half-past midnight, Lincoln staff decided Rivera had left the building. They wrote in records Rivera had “voluntarily left the ED (emergency department).”
The video, however, makes clear Rivera never left his seat in the hallway. How the nurses and doctors missed him — if they in fact looked for him — remains a mystery.
At 7:21 a.m. the next morning, the records show, nurses doing rounds suddenly reported that they had “found” Rivera after he had “com(e) back to the ER.”
He was in the same seat all night.
The hospital staff notes state Rivera was “found to be unresponsive” and bleeding from the mouth. In the video, Rivera can be seen lying immobilized on a stretcher as staff wheeled him out of Area A.
At 10:41 a.m., records show, he underwent surgery, but it was too late.