A Naselle, Washington, woman has filed a $4.6 million lawsuit against Columbia Memorial Hospital, alleging the hospital failed to perform an MRI before she suffered a stroke that left her severely disabled.

The lawsuit claims Betsy Christensen sought treatment at the Astoria hospital in April 2017 for neurological symptoms consistent with a potential stroke. A doctor concluded a stroke could only be identified by an MRI, the lawsuit alleges, but the diagnostic procedure would not be available for two more days.

Emergency room

A Naselle, Washington, woman has sued Columbia Memorial Hospital after a stroke.

Christensen went home, according to the lawsuit, and returned to the hospital two days later when her neurological symptoms persisted. An MRI was ordered after consultation with the Oregon Health & Science University Hospital stroke team, the suit claims. While Christensen was waiting for an MRI or during transport to OHSU, she had a stroke.

The lawsuit, filed last week in Circuit Court, alleges medical negligence and names the hospital and Dr. Michael Mitchell.

Christensen, 76, seeks $400,000 in medical expenses, $1.7 million for future medical and nursing care, and $2.5 million in noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering.

James Thomas, Christensen’s son, is bringing the lawsuit on her behalf.

“We can never comment on matters bound by patient confidentiality,” Nicole Williams, the hospital’s chief operating officer, said in an email.

James Huegli, a Portland attorney representing Christensen, said every minute counts when patients may be having a stroke. “My concern for the community is what appears to be a lack of focused care for people who come in with stroke symptoms,” he said. “This does not appear to be a unique problem to the Christensen case.”

Derrick DePledge is editor of The Astorian. Contact him at 503-791-7885 or ddepledge@dailyastorian.com.