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Death Raises Questions on Trauma Cases

July 07, 2002|From Associated Press

LAS VEGAS — A man here has become the first person to die from trauma injuries since Southern Nevada's only trauma center shut its doors last week.

Jim "Fisty" Lawson, 59, was injured in a traffic accident Thursday near McCarran International Airport and died a little more than an hour later at Desert Springs Hospital's emergency room.

He previously would have been taken to University Medical Center's top-level trauma center, but it was forced to close Wednesday after the resignations of dozens of doctors who cited rising medical malpractice insurance premiums.

Las Vegas trauma patients now are transported to the closest of the area's emergency rooms.

As a medical examiner performed Lawson's autopsy, his two daughters questioned whether trauma specialists could have saved his life.

Hospital and police officials declined to say whether they thought Lawson's life could have been saved if the trauma center had not been shuttered.

"There's no way anyone, a physician or anyone else, can say whether it would've made any difference," said Mike Tymczyn, a Desert Springs Hospital spokesman. "There's too many variables. It's so dependent on the man's medical history [and] the severity of the accident."

Officials also declined to speculate whether a pedestrian who was hit by a car early Friday and died could have been saved at the trauma center.

The closure left Las Vegas the only city of its size in the nation without such a life-saving facility for critically injured victims.

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