It has been reported that on March 18, 2020, a 15-year-old psychiatric patient in his hospital room at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore City, Maryland, suddenly ran past the hospital employee assigned to watch him and attacked a 74-year-old woman who was in a nearby room recovering from surgery. The attack with a pen led to the woman’s death less than 24 hours later.
The teenager reportedly entered the woman’s hospital room, picked up a pen, and repeated stabbed the woman in the face and also punched her at least once. The teenager was charged as an adult with attempted murder and additional charges are expected. The exact cause of the woman’s death will be determined by an autopsy. The woman’s husband, who witnessed the attack and tried to intervene, stated that his wife was a retired school teacher.
Witnesses to the teenager’s behavior shortly before the attack reportedly described the teenager as pacing and he was asked to sit down. The teenager was on the sixth floor of the hospital being treated for a psychiatric condition and an orthopedic problem. As he was attacking the woman while holding the pen and punching the woman in her head, the woman’s husband and hospital staff attempted to pull him away from the woman. They then attempted to pull the woman’s bed away from the teenager but the teenager continued to hold onto the bed until the woman’s bed was finally removed from the room. A nurse reportedly was struck in her face by the teenager during the struggle. Witnesses reportedly told police that the teenager had a “blank” and “unemotional” expression as they pleaded with him to stop.
The day following the woman’s death, a spokesperson for the University of Maryland Medical Center stated, “This is a difficult time and we are doing everything we can to provide comfort to the family and the staff that witnessed the attack and intervened” and that the hospital was cooperating with the Baltimore City homicide detectives in their investigation into the incident. A another spokesperson for the hospital stated, “Patients with psychiatric needs in addition to their immediate medical needs will receive care simultaneously on the medical unit on which their care is being delivered. Protocols related to patients receiving psychiatric treatment vary depending on the patient’s status and diagnosis. All applicable protocols were utilized in the care of this patient.”
The number of state-run psychiatric beds in Maryland has dropped by nearly 80 percent since the 1980s.
If you or a loved one may have been harmed as a result of psychiatric malpractice in Maryland or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a Maryland medical malpractice lawyer, or a medical malpractice lawyer in your state, who may investigate your psychiatric malpractice claim for you and represent you or your loved one in a psychiatric malpractice case, if appropriate.
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