December 5, 2023
Las Colinas Detention and Reentry Facility in Santee. Picture by way of @KPBSnews Twitter

A doctor testified Wednesday {that a} girl who died in custody on the Las Colinas jail in Santee exhibited clear indicators of alcohol and drug withdrawal — together with seizures and different signs — which warranted a better stage of medical care than she acquired.

The testimony got here within the ongoing preliminary listening to for a health care provider and nurse accused of negligence ensuing within the Nov. 11, 2019, dying of 24-year-old Elisa Serna.

Dr. Friederike Von Lintig, 58, and nurse Danalee Pascua, 38, are charged with involuntary manslaughter and resist 4 years in state jail if convicted.

Von Lintig was the doctor on obligation the day Serna died. Pascua witnessed Serna fall inside a medical remark unit cell on the date of her dying and prosecutors allege she left Serna mendacity on the ground of the cell for the following hour.

Dr. Shaun Carstairs, an emergency doctor at Scripps Chula Vista and Rady Youngsters’s Hospital, testified Wednesday that Serna’s self-reported historical past of alcohol and benzodiazepene use ought to have put jail medical workers looking out for withdrawal signs.

On the request of the San Diego County District Lawyer’s Workplace, Carstairs reviewed medical data, post-mortem stories and video footage from contained in the jail.

The physician mentioned that all through her custodial keep, Serna exhibited indicators of confusion and “a number of episodes the place she seemed to be struggling generalized seizure exercise,” which he mentioned had been indicators of withdrawal. He testified that withdrawal from alcohol and/or benzodiazepenes is probably life-threatening, however treatable.

Together with withdrawal signs, Carstairs mentioned that after falling in her cell, Serna was left on the ground able that probably obstructed her airway.

Video performed in courtroom earlier this week confirmed Serna stand at her cell door, then fall, strike her head in opposition to a wall and collapse to the bottom. After the autumn, Serna lay on the ground together with her head slumped ahead and propped up in opposition to the wall whereas the remainder of her physique was susceptible.

Pascua and a deputy entered the cell, however later left with out shifting Serna from that place. She was pronounced lifeless a short while later.

Carstairs mentioned he believed airway obstruction was “the proximate reason for dying,” however a number of seizures additionally performed a job.

Medical workers had been alerted to Serna’s cell a number of occasions on Nov. 11, together with one occasion by which Von Lintig responded and examined her.

Von Lintig measured Serna’s oxygen saturation stage, which reveals how a lot oxygen is in an individual’s bloodstream. Serna’s oxygen saturation charge was measured at 87%, which Carstairs described as “fairly irregular” and he or she ought to have been carefully monitored afterward, he mentioned.

In response to testimony through the preliminary listening to, Von Lintig may need believed Serna was faking her seizures.

Carstairs testified that given Serna’s historical past, she was at a excessive danger of affected by withdrawal signs, together with the seizures. Even when Serna had been pretending to have seizures, the oxygen saturation charge that was measured couldn’t have been faked, he mentioned.

“Ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether or not somebody thinks an individual is faking their signs or genuinely having seizure exercise. I believe that as a treating supplier, one must assume the worst till they can show in any other case,” Carstairs testified.

Serna’s dying can be the topic of a federal wrongful dying lawsuit filed in opposition to the county by her household, which alleges jail medical workers failed to offer correct care regardless of figuring out her substance abuse historical past.

Von Lintig, Pascua and several other others are additionally named as defendants within the ongoing lawsuit.

Metropolis Information Service contributed to this text.